Survey of Australian psychiatrists' and psychiatry trainees' knowledge about and attitudes towards medicinal cannabinoids

Australas Psychiatry. 2019 Feb;27(1):80-85. doi: 10.1177/1039856218803675. Epub 2018 Oct 9.


Objective:: To assess Australian psychiatrists' and psychiatry trainees' knowledge about and attitudes towards medicinal cannabinoids, given the recent relaxation of cannabinoid-prescribing laws in Australia.

Method:: All Australian members of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists were invited to participate in an anonymous, 64-item online questionnaire, through Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists' newsletters. The questionnaire ran for a 10-week period from March to May 2017. Participants were asked about their knowledge of the evidence for and against prescribing pharmaceutical-grade cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol, and their concerns about prescribing medicinal cannabinoids.

Results:: In total, 88 doctors responded to the survey, with 55 completing all items (23 psychiatrists, 32 trainees). Overall, 54% of respondents would prescribe medicinal cannabinoids if it was legal to do so. Participants believed there was evidence for the use of cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol in treating childhood epilepsy, chronic pain, and nausea and vomiting. They were most concerned about medicinal cannabinoids leading to psychotic symptoms, addiction and dependence, apathy and recreational use.

Conclusions:: Our sample of Australian psychiatrists and trainees were aware of the main clinical indications for medicinal cannabinoids, but were poor at differentiating between the indications for cannabidiol versus tetrahydrocannabinol. Further education about medicinal cannabinoids appears necessary.

Keywords: Australian psychiatrists; cannabidiol; medicinal cannabis survey; tetrahydrocannabinol.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Australia
  • Cannabinoids / adverse effects
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Medical Marijuana / adverse effects
  • Medical Marijuana / therapeutic use*
  • Physicians* / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychiatry* / education


  • Cannabinoids
  • Medical Marijuana