Your doctor is probably more worried about your weight than your marijuana use, study finds - Albuquerque Journal

Your doctor is probably more worried about your weight than your marijuana use, study finds

Doctors in the United States are not terribly concerned about your marijuana use, according to a study published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Researchers presented a representative sample of 233 primary-care physicians with nine hypothetical patient behaviors — tobacco use, alcohol use, obesity, etc. — and asked them how much of a problem they thought these behaviors were on a 10-point scale. Their goal was to suss out differences in doctors’ attitudes and treatment behaviors based on their political affiliation.

Among the nine behaviors, doctors rated marijuana use as the least-worrisome behavior, tied with abortion as an area of concern. By contrast, doctors rated not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle and having intercourse with sex workers several times a year as the most problematic behaviors on the list.

The doctors rated alcohol use, tobacco use and obesity as significantly more pressing issues, health-wise, than marijuana use.

The findings add some empirical heft to a Scientific American essay written by physician Nathaniel Morris, in which he argued that “for most health care providers, marijuana is an afterthought. … In medicine, marijuana use is often seen on par with tobacco or caffeine consumption — something we counsel patients about stopping or limiting, but nothing urgent to treat or immediately life-threatening.”

Although polls show that significant majorities of doctors approve of medical marijuana use, most mainstream medical organizations have been cautious when it comes to changes in marijuana policy. The American Medical Association opposes marijuana legalization, for instance.

But as more states liberalize their marijuana policies, some doctors’ groups are adopting an official pro-legalization stance. The California Medical Association supports the ballot measure that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana there. Earlier this year, a group of physicians calling themselves Doctors for Cannabis Regulation formed with the explicit goal of supporting marijuana legalization on public health grounds.

As for the political distinction that was the reason these questions were posed in the first place, the PNAS study found that marijuana use was one of the more polarizing topics among the doctors they surveyed. Republican doctors were, on average, much more concerned about marijuana use than their Democratic colleagues.

“Republican [physicians] are more likely to discuss health risks of marijuana [with their patients], urge the patient to cut down, and discuss legal risks,” according to the study.

The doctors were also polarized over the relative seriousness of previous abortions (Republican doctors more concerned) and of the presence of guns in the home (Democratic doctors more concerned).

Overall, doctors’ mild concern about marijuana use is not terribly surprising, given what the research shows about the health risks of marijuana use relative to the use of other common drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco.

Public health-wise, most researchers aren’t worried about marijuana use per se, but rather heavy marijuana use — the people who use marijuana daily, or multiple times a day. Those people are at a greatest risk for dependency and various health problems associated with heavy use — even if those problems don’t appear to be as severe as the debilitating conditions associated with long-term heavy tobacco or alcohol use.

pot

Home » More News » Your doctor is probably more worried about your weight than your marijuana use, study finds


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Keller: City ‘holding the line during difficult times’
ABQnews Seeker
Mayor cites Rail Yards redevelopment, planned ... Mayor cites Rail Yards redevelopment, planned Rail Trail as part of plan to improve Downtown
2
‘Joe was a force’: dad slain days after completing ...
ABQnews Seeker
Bike shop, relatives offering reward for ... Bike shop, relatives offering reward for bike and sentimental quilt stolen from Garcia's apartment
3
Hundreds protest Roe v. Wade decision
ABQnews Seeker
Protesters voice outrage at ruling and ... Protesters voice outrage at ruling and vow to fight back
4
NM Democrats weigh law protecting abortion rights
2022 election
'Our hearts, our clinics and our ... 'Our hearts, our clinics and our communities will remain open to those coming here for the care they want and need,' says one state ...
5
Biden signs landmark gun measure, says 'lives will be ...
ABQnews Seeker
President Joe Biden on Saturday signed ... President Joe Biden on Saturday signed the most sweeping gun violence bill in decades, a bipartisan compromise that seemed unimaginable until a recent series ...
6
Man fatally shot in SE ABQ
ABQnews Seeker
A man was fatally shot Saturday ... A man was fatally shot Saturday evening in Southeast Albuquerque. Lt. Ray Del Greco, an Albuquerque police spokesman, said police responded sometime before 6:30 ...
7
Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi to be ...
ABQnews Seeker
Parishes will chip in to cover ... Parishes will chip in to cover the payments on the debt
8
Young children now eligible for COVID vaccines in NM
ABQnews Seeker
Youngsters in New Mexico are now ... Youngsters in New Mexico are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines and doses for that age group have started to arrive, the state Department of ...
9
'Not all doom and gloom'
ABQnews Seeker
State making progress on 50-year water ... State making progress on 50-year water plan
10
Police: Man drove over, killed brother
ABQnews Seeker
Witness told police body was dragged ... Witness told police body was dragged on street