Public attitudes toward marijuana have changed considerably in recent years. Voters and legislators in 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and nationwide polls show that most Americans now support legalization.
But the nation’s medical organizations – while intrigued about the potential for marijuana to treat conditions like chronic pain – have been slow to embrace cannabis. And most doctors still refuse to prescribe it, even in states where marijuana is legal.
Those conflicting attitudes were on display last week at the annual meeting of the American Pain Society (APS) in Palm Springs, California – a conference focused on pain research. Although the APS has no stated policy on marijuana, the organization chose as its keynote speaker one of the most prominent medical marijuana researchers in the world, Dr. Mark Ware.
“I’ve done presentations and sessions, and it always surprises people how much interest there is,” said Ware, who is a family physician and associate professor in Family Medicine and Anesthesia at McGill University in Montreal.
“Cannabis gives people a window to come and learn, and while they’re learning about medical cannabis they can be learning about pain management and other things. It’s a very useful magnet to get people interested in a topic that’s obviously of enormous public importance.”
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