Study shows most doctors are open to prescribing medical marijuana to children with cancer but fear for their license
02/16/2019 // David Williams // Views

There are many different ways of treating young cancer patients, and most of them have something to do with relieving the patient's pain. Yet one form of treatment – which has a high chance of turning out to be the most useful one yet – is not allowed for use due to major medical as well as political restrictions.

This option is none other than medical marijuana. But while it is currently not allowed in prescriptions for children suffering from cancer, a new study shows that most doctors are more than willing to prescribe it for its medicinal properties.

Indeed, according to the results of a study that was conducted in Northwestern University, the vast majority of healthcare professionals would be willing to prescribe medical marijuana to a child suffering from cancer, as long as it is under the right circumstances.

To be more specific, the study showed that a total of 92 percent of all the involved survey participants answered in the affirmative when asked if they would help children with cancer in accessing medical marijuana. And from this group, about a third were qualified to write out prescriptions.

The seemingly large divide over the number of physicians who are willing to issue medical marijuana prescriptions and those who are actually able to appears to stem from the fact that there are no clear rules set in place for the practice to be done properly. For instance, those who had the qualifications to write prescriptions were said to be less open to do the same on the basis that the standards on dosing as well as hospital guidelines simply do not exist. This fact is seen as a major hurdle that is restricting doctors from prescribing marijuana.


As a matter of fact, the study showed that only eight percent of providers were willing to recommend medical marijuana to their adult patients, for use in treating anxiety, loss of appetite, nausea, and other symptoms caused by cancer and other conditions. This was despite the many known positive effects that it can have on patients. The lack of clear rules really puts a damper on any chance that doctors will be more willing to write medical marijuana prescriptions to patients.

For those who have managed to write medical marijuana prescriptions for their young patients, the act is more than just a routine medical procedure. Dr. Thomas O'Brien, a New York family practitioner, has prescribed pediatric patients as young as two years old, and he maintains that marijuana dosing – for both adults as well as children – is not an exact science but an art.

For one thing, the medical condition and the age of the patients play a role in determining the amount of cannabinoid oil and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) to prescribe to them. Not to mention, most physicians lack the general pediatrics skills that are mostly necessary when prescribing children specifically. This is something that could easily be solved with the presence of clear instructions and guidelines issued by health officials as well as hospitals. And of course, more in-depth research into the use of medical marijuana on cancer-stricken children would help tremendously.

According to Dr. Kelley Michelson, a co-author on the study, many doctors are worried that they might be risking their license if they write medical marijuana prescriptions while the clear-cut rules are still not in place. That is why it is important for changes to the federal rules on medical marijuana to occur to fix this issue once and for all.

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