A report published by Releaf suggests that half of the people living in the UK could be eligible for a medicinal cannabis prescription.
The survey, conducted online in April 2023, sought to understand the conditions members of the public have been formally diagnosed with and their broader understanding and awareness of cannabis as a viable medical treatment. A nationally representative sample of 4210 people were involved in the research, making this study the largest of its kind to date, a Releaf press release said.
The results indicate that 29.6 million people, half of the UK’s adult population, have at least one diagnosed medical condition which could be eligible for treatment with medicinal cannabis. 45.6% of those people in the research with a condition treatable with medicinal cannabis reported living with significant distress and discomfort. 32.83% of respondents said their condition had limited their ability to work or study, while 1 in 4 (25.15%) said they were worried about their future health.
The study also found that awareness of medical cannabis is increasing among the general population. 83.7% of people surveyed by Releaf knew that cannabis could be effective as a treatment, with 41.5% of people reporting that they understood that medicinal cannabis can be legally prescribed by a doctor in the UK. An improvement on previous research, which suggested that 84% of Brits were unaware that cannabis flower could be prescribed legally in the country.
Questions around social stigma in the survey highlighted a number of issues about the reality of taking medicinal cannabis among the public, with the most significant concern being perceived to be doing something illegal (34.16%). Just under a quarter of respondents (24.35%) expressed concern about being questioned by the police. Other common concerns included not wanting to experience a ‘high’ or side effects, and cannabis itself being bad for someone’s health. The cost of medical cannabis, a common issue among existing prescribed patients, was also a significant concern, with 29% of respondents saying this would discourage them from pursuing a legal private prescription.
Discussing the results, Mason Soiza, founder and CEO at Releaf said: “Since medicinal cannabis prescriptions were legalised in 2018, we have seen a lack of prescriptions being issued. Our report reveals two factors that could be at least partially contributing to this; that people are unaware it is now legally available via a prescription and that people still attach a negative stigma to it.
“However, findings from the report further show that more than two-thirds (67.67%) of people would consider using it as a treatment. With so many potential benefits available to users, it is important we all work to separate the beliefs that cannabis, when prescribed through legal means, can be a positive drug with life-altering effects – and that isn’t something we should label as bad or withhold from patients who clinically need the help it can provide.”