As medical marijuana is now legal in 20 states and DC (plus CBD-only medical marijuana in Utah and soon in Kentucky and Alabama), as Dr. Sanjay Gupta continues making amends for “systematically misleading” people on the medical utility of cannabis, and as patient after patient teaches their doctors how well marijuana works for them, the doctors are finally coming around. A new survey from WebMD/Medscape has found that 56 percent of the doctors surveyed supported “making [marijuana] legal nationwide.” Surprisingly, only 50 percent of the general public they surveyed agreed with that statement.
WebMD’s Chief Medical Editor Michael W. Smith, MD, said, “The findings would indicate a strong desire to have the DEA ease the restrictions on research so that additional studies can be done to conclusively show where medical marijuana can help and where it might not.”
More than two-thirds of the doctors (67 percent) said medical marijuana should be an option for their patients and (69 percent) that it can help with certain treatments and conditions. Only 52 percent of the public surveyed believed medical marijuana could really help patients.
Support was highest among oncologists (cancer specialists) and hematologists (blood specialists) with over four-out-of-five (82 percent) saying medical marijuana can help their patients and should be a legal option. Rheumatologists (arthritis specialists) had the lowest support, but still, a majority (54 percent), say it helps their patients.
When asked by specialty who receives the most patients inquiring about medical marijuana, 70 percent of neurologists (nerve specialists) reported patients seeking relief with cannabis. Oncologists, hematologists, and ophthalmologists (eye specialists) also saw majorities with cannabis-seeking patients.
However, the survey did not find majority support for marijuana legalization for recreational use, with 53 percent of the doctors and 51 percent of the public against it. The poll was conducted as a random sample of 2,960 consumers visiting WebMD’s website and 1,544 doctors who are members of Medscape’s panel. Thus, it isn’t a truly scientific poll, especially the numbers from the general public, who aren’t all that “general” if it consists only of the people visiting WebMD.
For comparison, today the Pew Research Center released a more accurate poll finding that 54 percent of the general public supports marijuana legalization and 76 percent oppose jail time for personal marijuana use. Three quarters (75 percent) also believe that marijuana legalization is inevitable. Broken down by type of legalization, 39% support outright recreational legalization while 44 percent prefer medical-only legalization, leaving just one-in-six people (16 percent) who prefer to maintain criminal marijuana prohibition.