Colorado Family Physicians and Medical Marijuana: Has Recreational Marijuana Changed Physician Attitudes and Behaviors?

J Am Board Fam Med. 2022 Jan-Feb;35(1):102-114. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2022.01.210116.


Introduction: Medical marijuana is permitted in 36 states; 15 states allow recreational marijuana use. Previous surveys showed that family physicians were concerned about the physical and mental health effects of medical marijuana use, but the impact of recreational marijuana legalization and liberalization of marijuana laws on physician attitudes is unknown.

Methods: A survey was distributed to 1582 members of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians' listserv, with items on individual and practice characteristics and experience with and attitudes toward medical marijuana. The results of this survey were compared with that of a nearly identical survey conducted with the same group in 2011. RESULTS: The proportion of family physician respondents in Colorado recommending medical marijuana to patients was the same in 2020 as in 2011 at 31%; 53% of physicians said that legislation allowing recreational marijuana did not change their approach to medical marijuana with patients. Family physicians were more likely to be in favor of legalization of recreational marijuana in 2020 than in 2011. CONCLUSIONS: Marijuana decriminalization and a robust marijuana economy in Colorado have not led to more family physicians recommending marijuana to patients, but there is now greater support for the legalization of recreational marijuana among family physicians.

Keywords: Cannabis; Colorado; Family Medicine; Family Physicians; Health Behavior; Medical Marijuana; Primary Health Care; Surveys and Questionnaires.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude
  • Cannabis*
  • Colorado
  • Humans
  • Medical Marijuana* / therapeutic use
  • Physicians, Family


  • Medical Marijuana