More than a third of chronic pain patients have asked a family doctor about medicinal cannabis as a treatment option, but many say they are reluctant, as survey results show.
According to a nationwide survey by Chronic Pain Australia, doctors typically cite cost and a lack of knowledge about access to treatment as the main reasons for their negativity.
The non-profit, non-governmental organization surveyed 2,233 Australians in June about their health experiences over the past 12 months and found that 38.8 percent had asked a family doctor about medical cannabis.
It finds that one in five Australians lives with chronic pain, while one in five visits to a doctor involves a patient with chronic pain.
According to the CPA, medical cannabis prescriptions rose 300 percent across Australia over the past year.
One respondent said his doctor declined to prescribe the drug “because he didn’t know enough about the process to access it” despite offering information on who else to speak to.
Another person said her family doctor thought medical cannabis was “a great idea but too expensive”, while one patient said her doctor “did not have much knowledge about it”.
“This was a new GP that I want to take on, not my existing one, and he said his only concerns were the cost and that he would feel terrible if he prescribed someone and they only paid hundreds of dollars.” to find that it doesn’t work for them, “said one survey participant.
Justin Sinclair, a naturopath with the NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University, says doctors need more formalized training available.
“Education around the therapeutic activity of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system should be embedded in the medical curriculum, not just offered as a postgraduate option,” he said.
Mr. Sinclair, who is also the chief scientist of the Australian Natural Therapeutics Group, said doctors’ reluctance usually stems from a lack of knowledge.
“Doctors may not want to prescribe cannabis because they don’t know enough about it and what they learned in their university courses, which mainly focused on the harms associated with it,” he said.
“If they don’t know enough about the drug, they’re less likely to stick their necks out, which is completely understandable.”
The Therapeutic Goods Administration just announced that low-dose CBD oil can be purchased over the counter.
Australian Associated Press