WebMD/Medscape Special Report: Marijuana on Main Street While Doctors Favor Legalization More than Consumers, Opinions Differ by Specialty

Oncologists and Hematologists Lead the Way on Advocating for Legalization

Sixty-nine percent of doctors say it can help with certain treatments and conditions; Fifty-two percent of consumers agree

/ PRNewswire / — WebMD Health Corp. (Nasdaq: WBMD), the leading source of health information, today released Marijuana on Main Street, a special report that provides an in-depth look at the debate over medical marijuana. As numerous states consider bills to legalize medical marijuana, WebMD surveyed nearly 3,000 consumers and Medscape surveyed more than 1,500 doctors about their attitudes regarding legalization, marijuana as a potential treatment option, and the perceived risks and benefits of its use to help shed light on this evolving issue.
Read more Back to top

The Marijuana on Main Street special report includes full survey findings, analysis, expert commentary and patient stories.

“Despite more than 20 years of anecdotal evidence about the medicinal effects of marijuana, doctors and consumers remain in search of answers,” says Dr. Michael Smith, Chief Medical Editor, WebMD. “The findings of our consumer-physician survey indicate the medical community’s support for the use of marijuana as a treatment option, particularly among clinical specialties that have pioneered research. Yet these survey data suggest additional studies will inform decision-makers’ confidence in where medical marijuana can help and where it might not.”

PHYSICIAN OPINIONS ON LEGALIZATION

Amid ongoing debate of whether medical marijuana should be legalized nationally, the Medscape survey finds that overall, 56% of respondents are in favor of national legalization. Peer-review data on marijuana’s health benefits remain limited.

Physicians who responded (69%) state medical marijuana can help with certain treatments and conditions. But the results show that physician opinion varies by medical specialty. The report finds:

  • 67% say medical marijuana should be a medical option for patients.
  • 50% of those practicing in states where medical marijuana is not legal say it should be legalized.
  • 52% of doctors practicing in states considering new laws say medical marijuana should be legal in their states.
  • 82% of oncologists and hematologists believe marijuana can deliver real benefits that can help patients – among the highest specialty response rates. These specialties are also the most likely to say that marijuana should be a medical option for patients (82%).

CONSUMER MEDICAL NEED VOICED

In WebMD’s companion survey of 2,960 consumers, respondents had similar levels of support for medical marijuana, including:

  • 50% support making medical marijuana legal nationwide.
  • 49% of those living in states where medical marijuana is not legal say it should be legalized in their state.
  • 52% say medical marijuana can help with treatments and conditions.
  • 45% say the benefits outweigh the risks.

The WebMD and Medscape surveys found that doctors and consumers were not as supportive of legalizing marijuana for recreational use. More than half of the doctors (53%) and consumers (51%) surveyed oppose legalizing it nationally for that purpose.

The debate over legalized marijuana continues among both healthcare professionals and consumers. To view the WebMD/Medscape Special Report, Marijuana on Main Street, visit http://www.webmd.com/news/breaking-news/marijuana-on-main-street/default.htm.

WebMD/ Medscape Survey Methods
The WebMD Medical Marijuana Consumer Survey was completed by 2,960 random WebMD site visitors from February 23 to February 26, 2014. All WebMD visitors had an equal probability of answering the survey. The sample represents the WebMD Health consumer network online population with a margin of error of ± 1.8% at a 95% confidence level, using a point estimate (a statistic) of 50%.

The Medscape Medical Marijuana Physician Survey was completed by 1,544 physicians representing more than 12 specialty areas who are members of the Medscape panel, from February 25 to March 3, 2014. Respondents were selected randomly from the appropriate practice area/specialty and invited via email to respond to the online survey. The sample represents the Medscape online population of these physicians with a margin of error of ± 2.5% at a 95% confidence level, using a point estimate (a statistic) of 50%. The specialties represented are Cardiology, Primary Care, Gastroenterology, Infectious Disease/HIV Care, Neurology, Obstetrics/Gynecology & Women's Health, Hematology/Oncology, Ophthalmology, Orthopedics/Orthopedic Surgery, Psychiatry & Mental Health, Rheumatology, and Urology, as well as several other specialties.

About WebMD
WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ: WBMD) is the leading provider of health information services, serving consumers, physicians, healthcare professionals, employers, and health plans through our public and private online portals, mobile platforms and health-focused publications. The WebMD Health Network includes WebMD Health, Medscape, MedicineNet, eMedicineHealth, RxList, theheart.org, Medscape Education and other owned WebMD sites.