Medical students are unprepared to counsel patients about medical cannabis and want to learn more.


Abraham Benavides, Nicholas Gregorio, Puneet Gupta, Mikhail Kogan

Published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine

January 2020



Over-the-counter and prescribed medical cannabis products are used by patients for various conditions including psychiatric disorders, pain management, and other neurodegenerative conditions.1 Despite this growing public interest and increasing legal availability, formal teaching on cannabis during medical school and residency in the United States is limited. A study by Evanoff et al2 found that 25 % of surveyed medical school curriculum deans reported that their graduates were not at all prepared to answer questions about medical cannabis. They also found that 84.9 % of surveyed residents and fellows reported receiving no education on cannabis in medical school or residency, and only 9 % of curricula in the AAMC Curriculum Inventory mentioned any medical cannabis education in 2015–2016.2

Along these lines, very little has been studied about the medical cannabis educational needs of trainees and practicing physicians in the US. In contrast, a 2015 study by the McGill University Health Research Institute details the results of an online needs assessment of over 400 Canadian physicians. They identified the most desired area for increased learning to be cannabis safety and the greatest gap between current perceived knowledge and desired knowledge to be dosing and the development of treatment plans.3 A later study of 182 Canadian nurse practitioners found similar results.4 In addition, 76.3 % of this sample of nurse practitioners rated the need for cannabis education to be either “strong” or “very strong”.4

To our knowledge, only one prior publication has gathered survey data directly from American medical students: a 2017 study conducted by Chan et al at the University of Colorado reported that while 97 % of their participants supported future research and believed that cannabis can play a role in medical treatment, less than half (45 %) would recommend it to a patient even if legally available.5 Following those studies, we investigated the extent to which medical students at The George Washington University (GWU) wish to learn about medical cannabis and assessed their subjective preparedness to counsel patients in this regard.


DOI: 10.1016/j.ctim.2019.102237

Full Text


Benavides A, Gregorio N, Gupta P, Kogan M. Medical students are unprepared to counsel patients about medical cannabis and want to learn more. Complement Ther Med. 2020;48. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2019.102237