Original Research

Attitudes of medical students regarding legalisation of cannabis and cannabis-education

Evan Eiselen, Kalaivani Naidu, Maryn Viljoen
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 29 | a1948 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v29i0.1948 | © 2023 Evan Eiselen, Kalaivani Naidu, Maryn Viljoen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 August 2022 | Published: 07 November 2023

About the author(s)

Evan Eiselen, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Kalaivani Naidu, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Maryn Viljoen, Private Statistician, Luckhoff, South Africa


Background: Recreational and medicinal use of cannabis is topical in the light of more permissive legislation regarding the substance worldwide.

Aim: The primary purpose of this study is to determine the attitudes that final-year medical students at the University of Pretoria (UP) hold about recreational and medicinal use of cannabis, as well as determining if they feel they are being adequately trained in this regard.

Setting: The research was conducted at Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital, affiliated with the UP.

Methods: The study follows a cross-sectional, comparative, quantitative design. Data were collected by means of a structured questionnaire. Final-year medical students were identified as participants via a convenience sampling technique. Participation was voluntary and anonymous.

Results: A total of 57 valid responses were recorded. The study shows that most medical students had permissive views about cannabis and that the majority feel that they are not being adequately trained to advise patients about medical cannabis in a lecture setting (64.9%, n = 37) or clinical setting (68.4%, n = 38). Results also show that previous personal experience with cannabis led to more permissive views.

Conclusion: This study illustrates the need for academic research regarding medicinal cannabis but interestingly shows that medical students want more guidance from their training institution about the topic.

Contribution: This research shows that the conversation surrounding cannabis in medicine is continuous and universities should make a conscious effort to familiarise students with the topic.


legalisation; cannabis; medical student; medicinal cannabis; recreational cannabis; medical training curricula


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