Just over half of rheumatology specialists believe cannabis or cannabis-based medicines can help in the treatment of rheumatic conditions like arthritis, according to a survey by the Canadian Rheumatology Association.
The results were published last month in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.
Of the 128 doctors that responded to the survey, 55% thought there was a role for cannabis or cannabinoids in treating rheumatic conditions. 45% said there was no role.
Despite the divide in opinion, the vast majority of respondents said they were unsure of how to prescribe cannabis.
Over 75% of respondents said they lacked confidence in their “current knowledge of the endocannabinoid system in health and disease.” What’s more, 90% of respondents said they would not feel confident writing a prescription that included dosing, frequency and method of administration.
Those that did feel confident recommending a dose offered 0.5-3 grams/day as a starting dose. A single dose per day was the most commonly recommended treatment schedule, with others suggesting 2-3 doses per day.
The lack of confidence among rheumatologists is concerning, conclude the authors of the survey, considering the widespread use of marijuana by patients with arthritis.
In 2013, federal data showed that more than half of Health Canada’s 30,000 registered cannabis patients were using it to treat severe arthritis. Medical marijuana has been legal in Canada since 2001.
The authors conclude that the absence of human studies is likely a major factor in the lack of acceptance towards cannabis.
A survey by WebMD/Medscape earlier this year found a similar level of support (54%) for medical marijuana among rheumatology specialists in the U.S.