We all trust our doctors to tell us the truth and to give us the facts about the various treatments and therapies available. Yet, when it comes to medical cannabis, doctors are woefully ill-prepared – and often unwilling – to engage with patients.

At the heart of the problem is the way doctors are educated. Few receive any meaningful formal education on the subject of medical cannabis. According to a study conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, just over two-thirds of medical school curriculum deans believed their graduates were prepared to use medical cannabis as a treatment, while a quarter stated that their graduates would not even be able to answer patients’ questions about it.

CCG has interviewed physicians from across the country, collecting stories about their exposure to medical cannabis during their time in medical school. We have found that many of the medical school curricula that even bother to talk about cannabis at all often do so only in the context of its status as an illicit drug. Rather than leaving medical school with usable knowledge and real facts, many young doctors enter practice with outdated – or outright false – conceptions. Some are even taught that patients presenting with “bloodshot eyes and insatiable hunger” may be suffering from “marijuana overdose”. In case you were wondering, that’s a condition that doesn’t actually exist.


With the legalization of medical and adult-use cannabis becoming increasingly widespread, improved general medical education, as well as dedicated cannabis education programs, are crucial. Patients deserve to know the facts, as do general consumers. Healthcare professionals need to be equipped with the knowledge to provide informed advice on responsible cannabis usage.

We were pleasantly surprised recently when the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy began enrolling the inaugural class for its Master’s of Science Degree in Medical Cannabis this coming semester. Any university taking a step toward engaging seriously with medical cannabis education is a welcome change; an accredited degree program is even better.

Unfortunately, upon closer inspection of the curriculum, we have found the University of Maryland’s new program leaves much to be desired. Amazingly, students are not permitted to engage physically with the cannabis plant or its byproducts at any point over the course of the two-year Master’s program. Imagine studying botany without actually being able to interact with plants, or studying chemistry without access to a lab!

In fairness to the University of Maryland, the bizarre restrictions are due neither to the school’s prudishness, nor to a half-hearted commitment to medical cannabis education. Rather, it’s the result of restrictive federal laws. We can’t blame the university for playing it safe; to do otherwise could cost it vital federal research and education funding. In fact, we salute the school’s efforts to move the cause of medical cannabis forward as best it can.

The path to achieving broad acceptance of medical cannabis may be long and winding, but it is important that we take it. Our doctors and healthcare professionals deserve better education, and our ailing citizens deserve better care.

At CCG, we are committed to doing all we can to advance the cause of medical cannabis and to ensure a bright future for responsible legal cannabis nationwide.

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