Original Research

Attitudes of Israeli Rheumatologists to the Use of Medical Cannabis as Therapy for Rheumatic Disorders

Jacob N. Ablin, Ori Elkayam, and Mary-Ann Fitzcharles


Background: While medical cannabis has been used for thousands of years in the treatment of pain and other symptoms, evidence-based use is limited and practitioners face multiple areas of uncertainty regarding the rational use of these compounds. Nonetheless, an increasing public interest and advocacy in favor of medical cannabis is causing the issue to be encountered ever more frequently by physicians in different fields of medicine and particularly in rheumatology. In view of this situation, we have surveyed the attitudes of Israeli rheumatologists to the use of medical cannabis. Objectives: As rheumatologists are specialized in caring for patients presenting with musculoskeletal complaints, the confidence of rheumatologists’ knowledge of cannabinoids was surveyed. Methods: All members of the Israeli Society of Rheumatology were surveyed by e-mail for their confidence and knowledge of cannabinoids and their perceived competence to prescribe herbal cannabis. Results: A total of 23 out of 119 (19.3%) Israeli rheumatologists approached returned the questionnaire. Three-quarters of responders were not confident about their knowledge of cannabinoid molecules or ability to write a prescription for herbal cannabis, and 78% were not confident to write a prescription for herbal cannabis; 74% of responders held the opinion that there was some role for cannabinoids in the management of rheumatic disease. Conclusion: Israeli rheumatologists lack confidence in their knowledge of cannabinoids in general, yet are open to the possibility of introducing this treatment. Additional data and guidance are necessary in order to allow rational utilization of cannabinoids for management of rheumatic pain.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2016;7(2):e0012