A new study seeking to quantify the opinions of substance abuse specialists on cannabis discovered overwhelming support for federal medical marijuana legalization, despite persistent concerns about the plant’s potential for abuse.
Published last week in the Journal of Substance Abuse and first reported by Marijuana Moment, the Towson University study found that more than 71% of the 966 participating substance use clinicians supported medical marijuana legalization, with 61% saying that they know someone who has used cannabis for addiction recovery treatment.
But while substance abuse professionals overwhelmingly support legalization, the same group expressed serious skepticism about proselytizing the plant too much. The respondents noted worries about whether medical marijuana has potential for improper use, and if encouraging pot use to recovering addicts would be “trading one addiction for another.”
“While most participants agreed that medical marijuana should be legalized and that its ‘responsible’ use was ‘safe,'” the study concluded, “they also believed that it is often abused and has not been studied adequately.”
As medical marijuana legalization continues to spread across the US, a number of states have added opioid use disorder and other addiction related ailments as qualifying conditions, with some recovery facilities welcoming cannabis as a tool to help wean users off hard narcotics. And while early studies of legal weed states have shown encouraging correlations when it comes to decreased hard drug use, a dearth of longitudinal clinical research has curtailed any concrete conclusions.
On the front lines of America’s opioid epidemic, drug addiction specialists are in a unique place to influence the future of substance abuse treatment and harm reduction. It is encouraging to see those clinicians stand behind medical cannabis, even if that support comes with a healthy dose of nuance.
“These mixed attitudes may actually reflect a healthy skepticism,” the Towson researchers wrote. “That is, if the current trends continue, addictions treatment professionals may be poised to both accept medical marijuana legalization and to handle any associated negative consequences.”
Follow Zach Harris on Twitter