CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After seeing the results of a recent survey of doctors concerning the medical marijuana issue from the state Department of Health and Human Resources, the West Virginia State Medical Association decided to do its own survey.
Medical Association President Dr. Brad Henry tells MetroNews the organization’s survey of its members show results not nearly as high as the state online survey that showed 82 percent of state doctors “interested” in medical marijuana.
In the WVSMA survey, in which approximately 75 doctors participated, only 31 percent said they were interested in becoming a certified physician for the state’s new medical marijuana law set to take effect in 2019. Henry said the issue continues to be the lack of research associated with the medicinal use of the drug.
“Every time I read anything, anything that comes out, there’s some promise but there’s still aren’t good scientific studies to support marijuana use for anything,” Henry said. “There still isn’t that level of scientific information to at least give me confidence in the utility of it as a medicine.”
One thing the doctors are struggling with is the provision in the law that would have a doctor certify someone that has a diagnosis but there’s much else they can tell them because of the lack of research on the drug, Henry said.
“You can’t look up (medical marijuana) in a textbook and say, ‘Okay, this is how much you should use. This is the side effects you should expect.’ Even over-the-counter (drugs) you can find what the usual dosages are and what the usual side effects are but with this substance (medical marijuana) that’s just not available,” Henry said.
Both the West Virginia State Medical Association and the American Medical Association favor existing laws to be changed to allow more study of marijuana, Henry said.
“Studies are very expensive. It takes money from the pharmaceutical industry and the government but that hasn’t been there for medical marijuana because it’s an illegal substance,” Henry said.
Four of the questions in the medical association’s survey:
–Do you think there is scientific evidence to support marijuana use as a medical treatment? Yes 65 percent
–Do you believe the legal access to medical marijuana will help patients? Yes 64 percent
–Are you interested in becoming a certified physician? Yes 31 percent
–Are you willing to receive the training required for the certification? Yes 34 percent
The results of the DHHR survey were shared during the most recent meeting of the West Virginia Medical Cannibas Board, the panel charged with implementing the state’s medical marijuana law. Nearly 1,500 physicians took part in the survey. The medical association’s survey had fewer respondents.
The WVSMA will continue to keep track of the issue, Henry said.
“We’re an advocacy organization for patients and physicians both and we want to make sure the product that comes out is as safe as it can be for the citizens,” Henry said. “As part of the law when it came out is that the state Medical Association has input on who gets appointed to the board. We have good physicians that are participating and are trying to make it as safe and effective as possible.”
The next meeting of the cannabis board is Feb. 6 in Charleston.