A significant number of North Americans have turned to cannabis products for health-related reasons such as pain and anxiety relief. In 2021, wellness products containing CBD, a cannabis compound, worth approximately $5 billion were sold globally.
Online sources are the primary source of information for most people seeking knowledge about medical cannabis. However, healthcare providers worldwide lack training in this field, making it difficult for them to advise their patients.
According to Professor Richard Isralowitz, the founding director of the Ben-Gurion University Regional Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Center (RADAR), a vast majority of students in medicine and related fields have no training on the risks and benefits of medical cannabis, the effects of different cannabis strains, delivery methods, correct dosing, and monitoring strategies.
Caught With Their Pants Down
A team of Israeli and American experts is launching a Medical Cannabis Education Development Program to address the lack of information and training among healthcare providers in medical cannabis.
The program aims to develop curriculums for medical and allied health professions schools worldwide, as the vast majority of students in medicine and allied health tracks have no evidence-based or supervised field education on the risks and benefits of medical cannabis, its strains, delivery methods, correct dosing, and monitoring strategies.
Prof. Richard Isralowitz, the founding director of the Ben-Gurion University Regional Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research (RADAR) Center, emphasizes that doctors have been caught unprepared, and while cannabis products are already available to the public, healthcare providers have little or no training to advise patients.
He believes that the program will fix this unhealthy situation by providing relevant education to healthcare professionals.
Dr. Richard Isralowitz and Dr. Leslie Mendoza Temple are part of a team launching the Medical Cannabis Education Development Program. The program aims to create curriculums for medical and allied health professions schools across the world.
The team conducted research on medical cannabis professional education in Israel, the US, and several European and Asian countries with the help of Dr. Mikhail Kogan from the GW Center for Integrative Medicine and Dr. Yuval Zolotov from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
The research shows that students of medicine and allied-health professions in all eight countries surveyed expressed an interest in learning about medical cannabis, but the faculty lacks the knowledge to create a curriculum beyond topics of abuse. The team presented their research at the 6th International Medical Cannabis Conference in Tel Aviv and the International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health in Phoenix, Arizona.
According to Dr. Temple, cannabis is considered by many health educators as a “messy” substance with many components that make it difficult to create a single-ingredient drug. Another challenge is that different individuals can have different responses to the same cannabis dose. Dr. Isralowitz adds that there is currently no consistency across countries in terms of medical cannabis education.
Cradle of Cannabis Research
Israel’s Medical Cannabis Education Development Program (MCED) is essential due to its leadership role, says Sue Sisley, president of the Scottsdale Research Institute. Sisley notes that Israel is the birthplace of cannabis research, with Professor Raphael Mechoulam first identifying the chemical composition of the plant’s compounds.
The MCED is working with around 20 international experts to develop medical cannabis competencies across multiple disciplines, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, social workers and psychologists.
The program aims to provide an ideal curriculum that teaches the endocannabinoid system, evidence-based therapeutic uses for cannabis, chemical components, and possible risks. Developing a curriculum is a challenge, with limited classroom time competing with other subjects, but there is an urgent need to develop curriculums adapted to the needs of each country and profession.
A global initiative, the Medical Cannabis Education Development Program, led by Israeli and American experts, aims to bridge the knowledge gap among healthcare providers. The program will create curricula for medical and allied health schools globally, addressing the lack of information on medical cannabis risks, benefits, dosing, and delivery methods.