Kevin Hill, MD, explains how changing cannabis policies will open new doors for clinicians.
Kevin Hill, MD:
Cannabis is a really hot topic that is not going away any time soon. If anyone's paid attention you know that cannabis use is skyrocketing - the use has actually doubled over the past 10 years. We have 29 states in the United States plus the District of Columbia that have implemented medical marijuana policies. We've got 9 states and the District that have legalized recreational cannabis policies so this is not an issue that's going away.
It's imperative for all clinicians, including psychiatrists to get comfortable with this idea, and I think that it's also a tremendous opportunity for psychiatrists to help people get into treatment who may not otherwise get into treatment. If a patient comes to you and they say I want medical marijuana for condition X, well there may be a legitimate reason for wanting it. Medical marijuana may not be the best available treatment but this is an opportunity, therefore, to get somebody into treatment.
It's also an opportunity to help your colleagues, because if we're experts in medical marijuana, you may get a call from an internal medicine doctor or an oncologist saying I have patients that are interested in this, what should I be concerned about, what should I know about?
Then finally the last piece is, if you're going to take advantage of these opportunities, you gotta be educated. So one of the things that I've really emphasized in talking about cannabis all over the country, and in other countries too, is that you've gotta be evidence based.
We have so many people who are talking about this polarizing issue in black and white. They're saying that this is the greatest thing ever, it's harmless, they're saying that if you use you're doomed. Neither of those things are true. The answers are in the middle. So we have to stick to the research, and there really isn't enough research at this point. We've got this much interest in cannabis, we've got this much research. So we really have a lot of progress to be made in the coming years.