Clinical Decision Making by Medical Marijuana Physicians in Florida: A Qualitative Assessment

Carly Crump
University of Florida

Medical marijuana (MMJ) was legalized in November 2016 with the passing of Amendment 2 in the state of Florida. Since the legalization, many studies have been conducted to understand the direct effect MMJ has on specific medical conditions.

Unlike most allopathic drugs, MMJ does not target single ailments or specific conditions and does not follow precise recommending guidelines. There is scarce knowledge on how patient characteristics, including medical conditions, affect a physician’s direct recommendations and registry limits.

To obtain insight on the effect patient characteristics have on the clinical decision-making process, we conducted ten qualitative interviews of MMJ physicians who are certified to order MMJ for patients in Florida. Interview topics ranged from typical daily practice to specific recommendations for patient histories. Each interview was transcribed and thematically analyzed.

Five major patient characteristics that influence a physician’s recommendation emerged from the interviews: patient medical history, co-medications, lifestyle, marijuana experience level and counter-indications. Each category was analyzed further to understand how the characteristic influenced the practice of recommending and ordering product.

Physicians emphasized the equivalent importance of reviewing a patient’s medical history, lifestyle, and past marijuana experiences while also expressing the need to look holistically at the individual patient. Instead of the characteristics determining what the physician recommends for the patient and orders through the registry, the characteristics dictate the education given to the patient so that the patient may lead and determine their own individual care.

Co-authors: Krishna Vaddiparti1, Catalina Lopez-Quintero1, Deepthi Varma1, Robert Cook1
1University of Florida

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