Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Prescribing medical cannabis: ethical considerations for primary care providers
  1. Aaron Glickman,
  2. Dominic Sisti
  1. Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Dominic Sisti, Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA; sistid{at}


Medical cannabis is widely available in the USA and legalisation is likely to expand. Despite the increased accessibility and use of medical cannabis, physicians have significant knowledge gaps regarding evidence of clinical benefits and potential harms. We argue that primary care providers have an ethical obligation to develop competency to provide cannabis to appropriate patients. Furthermore, specific ethical considerations should guide the recommendation of medical cannabis. In many cases, these ethical considerations are extensions of well-established principles of beneficence and nonmaleficence, which indicate that providers should recommend cannabis only for conditions that have the strongest evidence base. Additionally, the contested status of cannabis in American culture raises specific issues related to shared decision-making and patient education, as well as continuing clinical education.

  • ethics
  • mentally ill and disabled persons
  • primary care
View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Contributors AG conducted research secondary research, drafted significant portions of the article and made substantive edits. DS drafted significant portions of the article, made substantive edits and provided feedback to guide the research plan.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement There are no data in this work.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.