Updated: Feb 9
This ad-free article is brought to you by the C3 Podcast, a new weekly roundtable of veterans from the cannabis industry.
An April 2022 study entitled "Pharmacy Students' Knowledge, Attitudes, and Awareness Toward Marijuana Use" that was published in the Journal of Pharmacy Practice explored the perceptions of pharmacy students about cannabis.
Study participants, all of whom were pharmacy students, were asked to complete a survey that assessed their "knowledge, attitudes, and awareness toward marijuana use." The study examined participant "awareness about the...effects of marijuana" in comparison to alcohol and smoked tobacco products and personal use. Participants were asked about the possible efficacy of cannabis for cancer and whether they thought it might be addictive.
"Twenty-three percent of pharmacy students reported having used marijuana at some point in their lives," reported the researchers. Their data revealed the following:
49 percent thought tobacco is "more harmful than marijuana."
42 percent thought alcohol is "more harmful than marijuana."
60 percent considered "marijuana as an addictive substance."
45 percent of students "opposed the possibility of marijuana-induced cancer."
36 percent said "marijuana should be legalized for medical and adult-use."
32 percent said "marijuana should be legalized for medical use only."
The study's authors concluded that pharmacy schools "need to adopt educational activities about the benefits and risks of marijuana." While the study carried some anti-cannabis bias revealed in the framing of some participant questions (45 percent of students "opposed the possibility of marijuana-induced cancer"), it serves as a sobering view into the average mentality of pharmacists, medical doctors, veterinarians, nurses, and other wellness professionals toward the use of cannabis as medicine.
"Of concern is the report that 60 percent considered 'marijuana as an addictive substance.' Research reveals that cannabis addiction is equal to that of caffeine: Nine percent."
Of concern is the report that "60 percent considered 'marijuana as an addictive substance.'" Multiple peer-reviewed research studies reveal that cannabis does, in fact, carry a risk of addiction. The reality, however, is that this risk is very low and equal to that of the caffeine found in coffee, tea, and energy drinks: Nine percent. Medical schools need to wake up and smell the proverbial coffee.
Also of concern is that, while the study reported that 45 percent of participants did not think that cannabis causes cancer, this metric implies that the majority may have believed that cannabis causes cancer.
However, a number of preclinical studies involving rodents and clinical trials involving humans have revealed that a range of terpenes and cannabinoids produced by cannabis—including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—provide multiple layers of cancer symptom relief and sometimes are involved in mechanisms that directly attack and kill cancer cells, resulting in outcomes such as smaller tumors or remission.
"The study reveals the dearth of education and rational, science-based understanding of the effects of cannabis within the professional medical community."
The study reveals the dearth of education and rational, science-based understanding of the effects of cannabis within the professional medical community and, more specifically, within this particular 2022 sample of pharmacy students. It also reveals the bias held by some researchers and scientists toward the cannabis herb.