Cannabis online course for physicians

Over the last 20 years many countries legalized the medicinal use of cannabis, including The Netherlands, Canada, Israel, Germany, Italy, Uruguay, and many States of the US. In most cases this means licensed producers (LPs) grow cannabis, product developers create suitable administration forms, which physicians then prescribe to patients in need. Unfortunately, many physicians feel uncomfortable with the lack of scientific and clinical data about the effects of cannabis, and choose not to prescribe. In some cases physicians even do not want to discuss medicinal cannabis at all with their patients. For these patients this often means a frustrating process of finding another physician, growing their own plants, or even buying cannabis on the black market.

Educating physicians about the risks and the benefits of medicinal cannabis is a major bottleneck in many medicinal cannabis programs. But you can’t force physicians to learn about something they mistrust, and cannabis is still absent from the curriculum of most medical schools. So the question is: how do you make prescribers interested enough in cannabis to make them want to learn more? The answer is to create a course that is short but practical, provide Continued Medical Education (CME) credits, offer it for free, and develop it in collaboration with a trusted partner.

In 2019, several members of the LCC joined forces to create such a course for Dutch physicians and health care workers. The e-learning course ‘Medicinal use of cannabis’ was developed in collaboration with the Dutch Institute for Rational Use of Medicine (in Dutch: IVM). The IVM is a major developer of medical training courses in The Netherlands, and well trusted throughout the health care community. The course content was based on the experiences gained within the Dutch medicinal cannabis program that has been active since 2003. The LCC provided most of the scientific and practical data for the course, which the IVM independently turned into an e-learning course on their online training platform.

The course is offered free of charge and takes about 2 hours to complete. The course has been CME certified for a wide range of healthcare professions, including general practitioners, pharmacists, pain specialists, oncologists, and nurses. To receive CME credits, participants need to complete a final online exam, and pay a small (10 Euro) administrative fee. Since its launch in April 2019, the cannabis online course quickly became the most popular training offered by IVM. In its first year, the course has already been completed by over 400 participants.