December 13th, 2017
Most pediatric oncology providers are open-minded to the idea of medical marijuana use for their patients. Published in the journal Pediatrics, a December survey of health care providers discovered 92 percent of polled physicians in nonmedical marijuana states would consider providing children with cancer access to medical marijuana.
But while most doctors in nonmedical marijuana states who treat children with cancer said they would provide their tiniest patients with the plant’s medicinal cannabinoids – Oncologists in states with legalized medical marijuana seemed slightly more reluctant.
Of the polled health care professionals in medical marijuana states, only 85 percent said they’d be willing to grant access to medical marijuana.
Still classified as a Schedule I Narcotic within the Controlled Substance Act, physicians cannot legally prescribe marijuana. While they can “recommend” medical marijuana, the Drug Enforcement Agency’s official policy is that marijuana — including it’s cannabinoids and terpenes — have “no accepted medical use.”
A seemingly odd dichotomy, the co-author of the study, Kelly Michelson M.D., explained the prevailing trepidation. “It is not surprising that providers who are eligible to certify for medical marijuana were more cautious about recommending it, given that their licensure could be jeopardized due to federal prohibition.”
For the study, researchers sent a survey to 654 health care professionals at three pediatric cancer centers: Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and Seattle Children’s Hospital Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Survey results come from the 288 oncologists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, psychologists, social workers, and registered nurses who care primarily for children with cancer.
A critical care physician at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Michelson explained her colleague’s conundrum. “Institutional policies also may have influenced their attitudes. Lurie Children’s, for example, prohibits pediatric providers from facilitating medical marijuana access in accordance with the federal law, even though it is legal in Illinois.”
The study concluded, despite there being an “absence of standards,” most pediatric oncology providers would be willing “to consider MM [medical marijuana] use in children with cancer.”