Physicians' attitudes toward the legalization of marijuana use

West J Med. 1989 Jun;150(6):714-7.


We asked 303 practicing physicians in general internal medicine, family medicine, gastroenterology, or psychiatry to indicate whether possessing or using marijuana should be considered a felony, a misdemeanor, warrant the issuance of a citation, or be legalized. The position physicians advocated was unrelated to their specialty, experience diagnosing or treating substance abuse problems, their attitudes toward the efficacy of the treatment of drug abuse, or any other work role or habit we measured. Legalization or citation as compared with harsher penalties, however, was more likely favored by physicians who were younger, less religious, politically more liberal, and those less likely to perceive a serious drug problem in society. Legalization was also more likely favored by physicians who themselves had used marijuana, cocaine, and amphetamines but was unrelated to the use of alcohol, cigarettes, or tranquilizers. Although physician opinion should be sought as society deals with the drug problem, this study suggests how physicians' characteristics may influence the opinions that are rendered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians*
  • United States


  • Illicit Drugs