Attitudes toward medical cannabis among family physicians practising in Ontario, Canada: a qualitative research study
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BACKGROUND: Medical cannabis has been legally available in Canada since 2001, but its benefits and harms remain uncertain. We explored attitudes toward medical cannabis among family physicians practising in Ontario. METHODS: Between January and October 2019, we conducted a qualitative study of Ontario family physicians using semistructured telephone interviews. We applied thematic analysis to interview transcripts and identified representative quotes. RESULTS: Eleven physicians agreed to be interviewed, and 3 themes regarding medical cannabis emerged: reluctance to authorize use, concern over harms and lack of practical knowledge. Participants raised concerns about the limited evidence for, and their lack of education regarding, the therapeutic use of cannabis, particularly the harms associated with neurocognitive development, exacerbation of mental illness and drug interactions in older adults. Some participants thought medical cannabis was overly accessible and questioned their role following legalization of recreational cannabis. INTERPRETATION: Despite the increasing availability of medical cannabis, family physicians expressed reluctance to authorize its use because of lack of knowledge and concerns regarding harms. Family physicians may benefit from guidance and education that address concerns they have surrounding medical cannabis.