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What Do Swiss Psychiatrists Think About Cannabis Use in Mental Health?

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In recent years, the global landscape surrounding cannabis regulation has been evolving rapidly. Switzerland, in particular, has taken significant steps in this regard, amending its laws in 2021 to allow pilot trials aimed at evaluating various models for the production and distribution of cannabis for nonmedical use (CNMU). Concurrently, the discussion surrounding cannabis for medical use (CMU) in psychiatry has been gaining traction, with patients advocating for its availability and medical professionals engaging in discourse on its potential therapeutic benefits.

Aiming to gauge the attitudes and perspectives of psychiatrists in Switzerland towards these evolving issues, an online survey was conducted between December 2021 and February 2022. The survey targeted psychiatrists across the country and included questions regarding their views on regulative models for CNMU and the prescription of CMU for mental disorders.

Key Findings

Out of the 2010 psychiatrists contacted, 274 (14%) participated in the survey, offering valuable insights into their stance on cannabis regulation and medical use in mental health. Notably, the majority—64%—expressed support for the regulated legalization of CNMU, indicating a growing acceptance of alternative regulatory frameworks within the psychiatric community. Additionally, an overwhelming 89% of respondents welcomed the prospect of pilot trials aimed at evaluating different models for regulating CNMU, underscoring the importance of evidence-based policymaking in this domain. However, it is noteworthy that psychiatrists from French-speaking regions exhibited greater skepticism towards these initiatives.

Regarding CMU for mental disorders, the survey revealed a nuanced perspective among Swiss psychiatrists. While 49% acknowledged the potential therapeutic effects of CMU, an equal 50% expressed reservations due to the perceived lack of scientific evidence supporting its efficacy. Interestingly, psychiatrists working in inpatient settings or in French-speaking regions, as well as those with more extensive professional experience, tended to be more skeptical about the therapeutic benefits of CMU for mental health conditions.

Conclusion

The findings of this survey shed light on the evolving attitudes of Swiss psychiatrists towards cannabis regulation and medical use in mental health. Despite some skepticism and concerns about the scientific evidence supporting CMU, there appears to be a growing recognition of the need for rigorous research and pilot trials to inform policy making in both CNMU and CMU domains. Moving forward, it is imperative to continue engaging with stakeholders and conducting robust research to ensure that regulatory frameworks and medical interventions concerning cannabis align with best practices and evidence-based approaches in psychiatry.