Survey: Most Physicians Report Lack of Medical MJ Knowledge To Guide Treatments

The journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research published new survey data, titled “Physicians’ Attitudes and Practices Regarding Cannabis and Recommending Medical Cannabis Use,” last month, ultimately finding that a majority of physicians report they don’t possess adequate knowledge to guide patients on potentially using medical cannabis.

Researchers affiliated with the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor conducted the survey, involving 244 participating physicians.

Physicians Still Need More Cannabis Education

The survey introduction notes that medical cannabis users tend not to trust or rely on healthcare providers for cannabis advice. In fact, previous research has shown many patients tend to avoid the conversation around medical cannabis with their healthcare providers entirely. Authors state that previous physician surveys have focused on “favorability toward medical cannabis.”

“The current study assesses how physicians interact with patients regarding cannabis in their day-to-day practice, and whether and how they address important topics such as use patterns and substituting cannabis for medications,” the authors write. They also predicted that surveyed physicians would generally perceive cannabis dispensary staff and caretakers as less competent in addressing the health needs of patients and would be unlikely to use their recommendations.

Physicians were selected from a university-affiliated health system to complete the anonymous online survey, meant to assess doctors’ experience in cannabis-related education, perceptions of their knowledge of medical cannabis and the content of cannabis-related discussions with patients. Researchers also examined physicians’ perceptions of medical cannabis dispensary staff, medical cannabis caregivers and their influence on patients.

The results found that 10% of physicians had ever signed a medical cannabis authorization form for their patients. Physicians who did discuss cannabis with patients tended to focus primarily on risks (63%) instead of dosage (6%) and harm reductions (25%). 

Authors note that physicians also saw their influence on patients as “weak” compared to other information sources. Most respondents said they had “low knowledge and competence” when it comes to medical cannabis. However, consistent with their hypothesis, most physicians also had “generally unfavorable attitudes” toward medical cannabis dispensary staff and medical cannabis caregivers.

Cannabis Knowledge in the Medical Field: An Ongoing Issue

Ultimately, researchers concluded that physicians’ lack of knowledge was the most frequently cited reason for not making a medical cannabis recommendation. To remedy this issue, they suggest “greater integration” of medical cannabis into medicine, along with an increase in medical education “to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of medical cannabis.”

“Greater integration of medical cannabis knowledge is needed at all levels of medical and clinical education to address the potential harm to patients if they receive no guidance,” the authors state. “Continued research is needed to provide a strong scientific basis for developing treatment guidelines and standardized medical education for medical cannabis use.”

The results are consistent with previous research on medical cannabis and healthcare providers. 

In 2022, a similar survey of 145 internal medicine residents from the Mount Sinai Morningside-West program found that most lacked training around medical cannabis use. Specifically, 93% of respondents said they lacked adequate knowledge about the overall effects of cannabis, 97% said they lacked sufficient knowledge regarding indications it could address, 83% said they didn’t know where to find pertinent information on the subject and 92% agreed that medical cannabis education should be included in their training.

The Catch-22 of Seeking Medical Cannabis Guidance

Given this trend, other studies have looked at how medical cannabis patients actually retrieve medical cannabis guidance. One recent study of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients found they most often used dispensary staff (38%) and friends (32%) for general information on cannabis for MS. The most-commonly reported source of medical guidance among patients who had used medical cannabis at some point in their lives was reported as “nobody or myself,” followed by a dispensary professional (21%). Just 12% relied on their physicians for information.

While this trend may clash with the beliefs of physicians, it reflects the gaps in medical education around medical cannabis use and treatments. 

One 2020 survey found that less than one in five patients believed their primary caregivers were knowledgeable about cannabis-specific health issues. When patients don’t trust that physicians have the information they need, who are they supposed to turn to instead?

Authors ultimately put responsibility on the medical field, stating in the study’s conclusion, “Primary care providers need to be knowledgeable about cannabinoids to best support patient care,” adding that research should continue to address the potential benefits and harms of cannabis.

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How to Grow Cannabis?

Beginner’s Guide to Growing Cannabis >> Download e-Book Version <<   Overview of the e-book This e-book will provide a comprehensive guide for beginners looking to start growing cannabis. It will cover everything from choosing the right cannabis strain to setting up a grow space to caring for and harvesting your cannabis plants. It will also include information about the legal and regulatory aspects of growing cannabis, pests, and disease control, as extracting and processing cannabis. This e-book is meant […]

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Willy and Philly: Meet the Undercover Shroom Wizards Carrying Psychedelic Culture on Their Backs

Willy Myco and Philly Golden Teacher have racked up a fair amount of notoriety in the psychedelic community for their educational videos geared toward teaching would-be trippers how to grow and synthesize their own psychedelics.

This matters to you, dear reader and presumed drug enthusiast, because growing shrooms is really damn hard. Most people can figure out how to grow an ounce or two using Google (or High Times articles) but a majority of people find it far too complicated at first glance and most processes involved with psychedelic production are much easier to understand with visual aids. Being as it were that a lot of people would prefer to consume their drugs without engaging in some sweaty, parking lot exchange with a dude named Indigo, a lot of folks would be shit out of luck if it weren’t for people like Willy and Philly. 

These guys are really putting their money where their mouths are in the sense of taking big legal and personal risks to advance the science of psychedelic production and educating the masses on how to safely replicate the processes for themselves. They both hide their identities in different ways. Willy wears a face mask in his videos and PGT has yet to show his face or reveal what his voice sounds like. Their channels and messages are not associated with one another but they have each amassed an impressive following and each contributed crucial information about psychedelics directly to the people who need it.

High Times caught up with Willy and Philly both together and individually to talk shop about psychedelic culture and their efforts to preserve, promote and advance it.

Courtesy Philly Golden Teacher

Willy Myco

Willy is, I shit you not, a Harvard graduate with degrees and qualifications out the wazoo who walked away from a quarter-million dollar salary at a big-name pharmaceutical company to make his educational YouTube and Patreon videos. The videos span from DIY shroom growing techniques to how LSD is synthesized and more. He now pays his bills almost entirely through YouTube and Patreon, thanks to his organically grown community which he refers to as the “trip team family” or TTF. 

“I ain’t shit without you guys,” Willy said. “Without that community behind me, supporting me and being there for me, then I wouldn’t be able to do it.”

The TTF is hard to quantify but according to Willy it ranges anywhere from 70 to 120,000 people. They have a private Discord server that is genuinely a positive place to explore with super friendly people, all of whom are stoked to help other budding mycologists and psychedelic enthusiasts on their individual journeys. 

Not only that, but these cats throw one hell of a party by the sound of things. Willy puts on this big event every year called “Trip-A-Ween” where they basically fry balls on world-class psychedelics and do fun shit like rent out an entire amusement park or live large in Costa Rica for a week. They spare no expense and talk about it like it’s a big family reunion.

As a Patreon supporter and member of the TTF discord, I won’t reveal much of what I’ve seen in there for obvious reasons but I will note that right before I started writing this article, a big member of the TTF community who goes by the alias Watr was arrested and had their children taken away from them for allegedly distributing psychedelics. Inside of a week, Willy had a sweatshirt made up and started an in-house fundraiser to raise money and bring Watr back home to his kids. Willy has also personally given thousands of dollars out of his own pocket to finance medical treatment for some supporters of his who needed help.

Willy is currently in the process of buying a house in Puerto Rico where he will be setting up a cannabis grow to provide employment for the people living there, not to mention hosting a podcast, likely throwing more shroom parties and providing mycology/cannabis cultivation classes to impoverished Puerto Ricans. Willy told High Times his ultimate goal is to preserve the legacy of the people who came before him.

“I want to see people be able to support their families and build their empires off of psychedelics, I want to be able to see people flourish and do well—the people that actually deserve it, and are doing it for the right reasons,” Willy said. “I don’t want that culture to be gone. I don’t want it just to become a machine like cannabis has become. It’s an industry now. It’s a big thing. Before, when it was underground, it was about the members of the community and the people who actually put in the work to preserve it. And then once it became an industry, it just became about money. It was no longer about community.” 

Courtesy Philly Golden Teacher

Philly Golden Teacher

Philly is a bit more elusive than Willy but his videos are very detailed and dive deep into the art of shroom growing. Whereas Willy’s videos encompass all psychedelics, Philly strictly focuses on mycology and mushroom cultivation. He’s a prolifically paranoid man (for VERY good reason) who used a voice modulator when speaking to High Times

“I’m scared. I’m scared to put myself out there,” Philly said. “That fear really puts me into anxiety mode.”

Philly didn’t tell me many specifics about himself other than he tries to blend into society as much as possible to avoid detection. He works a 9-5 at a call center and spends his off-time working on advanced mycology projects, one of which is attempting to crossbreed psychedelic mushrooms to make a new “strain.” Strain is in quotes because it’s even less accurate when used to refer to mushrooms than how it’s commonly used for cannabis but for our purposes, strain is fine. 

“You have to understand crossbreeding is a lot more complex than putting two different mycelium together on a plate and having them go ‘here, kiss.’ You have to isolate a single spore to be able to do it at a microscopic level. It’s hard to do that; it’s hard to verify that without a microscope so people don’t get into crossbreeding unless you can afford a microscope to put the work behind to do it,” Philly said.

The thing with mushroom growing is that much like cannabis, a fair amount of the legwork on figuring out how to do it properly is pioneered by guys like Philly, who lives in constant fear of federal police raids at worst and losing his YouTube account at best.

“I have to really be careful what I put out on there,” Philly said. “I’m trying to steer things forwards, just trying to to drive things to Patreon because I can’t really rely on YouTube.”

Philly told High Times he’s particularly excited about mushroom lineage cards he and his wife have been working on with information about the breeders and history behind the different “strains” of psychedelic mushrooms.

“We basically went full Pokemon,” Philly said. 

Both PGT and Willy expressed parallel views to High Times on how psychedelics should be used or looked at going forward. They both hammered home two distinct points multiple times over:

  • Psychedelics can be used as medicine but should more so be looked at as tools.
  • Decriminalization instead of legalization.

“I’m more comfortable with decriminalization than legalization,” Willy said. “I don’t think people should go to jail or be charged for cultivating their own medicine, whether that’s mushrooms or extracting DMT or cultivating cannabis, whatever the case may be. People should be able to do it freely. But, legalization brings a whole nother slew of problems: oversaturation, stepping on the toes of all the cultivators that have been doing this for a long time. You have companies that have millions of dollars of backing and you just can’t compete with that.”

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Can You Overdose from THC?

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