Three out of four doctors would prescribe marijuana to a patient who was experiencing pain from cancer, according to the results of a poll published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The poll included 1,446 votes from 56 states and 72 countries, though most responses came from North America. For the poll, doctors were presented with the case of a 68-year-old woman named Marilyn, who was experiencing symptoms from metastatic breast cancer. They were asked to vote on whether medical marijuana should be prescribed to her for these symptoms, and were also presented with two opinion pieces written for doctors both for and against medical marijuana.
Researchers found from the results that "physicians in favor of medicinal marijuana often focused on [their] responsibility as caregivers to alleviate suffering," they wrote. "Many pointed out the known dangers of prescription narcotics, supported patient choice, or described personal experience with patients who benefited from the use of marijuana."
Meanwhile, researchers noted that those who were against the use of medical marijuana said that there is not enough evidence to support its use, and they also raised concerns about dosages and side effects.
"I think there's some context that needs to be considered," Dr. Bradley Flansbaum, one of the doctors who said he would prescribe marijuana to the theoretical patient, told HealthDay. "This was a woman with stage 4 cancer who wasn't responding to [anti-nausea medications]. I'm not saying let's legalize marijuana, but this is a woman at the end of her life, so what's the downside, given that there might be a benefit. In a different situation, medical marijuana might not be so well embraced."
Marijuana use is illegal in the United States, but it is legal for medical purposes -- and with a prescription -- in 19 states, UPI reported. CBS News pointed out that it's been shown to help with pain, appetite and mood for medical use, but it is still not approved by the FDA.