Study: Health Care Professionals Vary in Their Beliefs About Medicinal Cannabis Use


The study concluded that pharmacists reportedly scored higher on the knowledge test than neurologists and nurse practitioners.

Most clinical studies regarding cannabis use have centered on its primary phytocannabinoid constitutes, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is classified as mood-altering with its psychoactive components; CBD has no significant mood altering effects. The lack of clinical research surrounding cannabis limits its use as an effective therapeutic option to patients.

Epilepsy & Behavior published a study in its May 2020 issue assessing health care providers’ knowledge and beliefs related to medical cannabis use. Researchers distributed an online survey to neurologists, nurses/practitioners, and pharmacists to glean information related to their knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs.1

Surveyed participants supported the use and legalization of medicinal cannabis, but half were unacquainted with its clinical use and pharmacology. Study results indicate cannabis has potential in medicine due to growing interest, however, the lack of clinical research and knowledge limits provider recommendations.

The study concluded that pharmacists reportedly scored higher on the knowledge test than neurologists and nurse practitioners. Results also showed that nurse practitioners had more favorable attitudes toward medicinal cannabis use than neurologists and pharmacists.

The study correlated participants’ geographic locations and survey responses. Participants employed in states with legal access to cannabis are more open to medicinal treatments compared to states with restricted policies in place. The results also indicated that younger health care professionals are more open to recommending cannabis as a therapeutic option than older health care professionals.

Providing cannabis-related education early on in future health care professional curricula can lead to better preparation in addressing patient inquiries surrounding cannabinoid therapies.

Ariana Hawkins is a 2021 PharmD candidate at the University of Connecticut in Storrs.


  • Szaflarski M, McGoldrick P, Currens L, et al. Attitudes and knowledge about cannabis and cannabis-based therapies among US neurologists, nurses, and pharmacists. Epilepsy Behav. 2020;109:107102. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.107102

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