We Asked Health Care Professionals What They Think Of Weed, Man

Users of the health care app Figure 1 said they would encourage patients to try more “traditional” therapies before turning to marijuana.

1. A majority of health care workers such as doctors, nurses, and medical students would prescribe marijuana to patients if they could, according to an online survey conducted by the Figure 1 medical app for BuzzFeed Canada.

Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images

A total of 10,143 self-identified health care workers in more than 100 countries completed a voluntary survey about medical marijuana. Nearly 7,000 of those surveyed were in the United States, with 702 coming from Canada, 410 from Australia, and 394 from the United Kingdom.

Figure 1 is a smartphone app used to share and discuss medical cases. It claims a user base of more than one million health care professionals around the world.

2. Overall, 80% of respondents said they would prescribe marijuana to patients if they could. Those in Australia (84%), the U.S. (82%), and Canada (78%) were the most enthusiastic.

We also asked those who said they have prescribed pot to list the medical reason for doing so. Just under 70% said they prescribed it to help patients with pain management.

This aligns with a BuzzFeed survey of Canadian medical marijuana users that found over 40% used the drug for pain management, the most popular response.

3. Even though most heath care professionals surveyed said they would prescribe pot, they don’t view it as a first option when treating patients. Overall, 76% said they expect patients to try a more "traditional" therapy before marijuana.

4. Just under 30% of health care professionals surveyed said they would recommend patients take their marijuana by eating or drinking it. That was the most popular method, followed by oil at 21%.

Jack Guez / AFP / Getty Images

“The strong preference for taking marijuana in food, drink or oil form makes sense, given the serious dangers of smoking,” said Dr. Joshua Landy, a critical care specialist and the co-founder of Figure 1.

Twenty-one percent of respondents said they are not yet sure which method is best for patients. This element of uncertainty around medical marijuana isn’t surprising given that 97% said they could not currently prescribe marijuana to their patients.

The final, optional question on the survey asked whether the health care professionals use marijuana themselves. A total of 17% said they use the drug, and more than 10,000 people chose to answer the question.

Russel A. Daniels / The Associated Press

The country with the highest percentage of healthcare professionals who use marijuana? That was Canada, with 25% of respondents saying they use pot.

The survey was conducted in the Figure 1 app and on its website between April 14 and 18, 2016.

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Craig Silverman is a media editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto.
Contact Craig Silverman at craig.silverman@buzzfeed.com.
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