A survey by cannabis clinic Mamedica has found that 84% of British people are unaware cannabis flower is available on prescription from specialist clinics.
The survey, completed by 4000 participants, also found that 60% of respondents would consider cannabis as an alternative to traditional medicine, and that 59% would consider cannabis as a treatment if it was recommended to them by a medical professional. More than half (56%) of those surveyed were unaware that any cannabis medicine is available on prescription at all.
Since November 2018 it has been legal to prescribe cannabis in Britain, with an estimated 16,000 patients now receiving prescriptions for conditions including chronic pain and anxiety. However, results suggest that significant communication issues around medical cannabis remain. Four-fifths (81%) of those surveyed said that there is still a negative stigma around cannabis in the UK, and 72% said that they felt there is a problem with education around the facts of cannabis and in particular medical cannabis in Britain.
Speaking about the results, Jon Robson, founder of Mamedica, told leafie “Britain is clearly at a turning point when it comes to medical cannabis. While the law has changed, it’s clear that there’s been a failure of communication.
“There are believed to be millions of people in this country who could benefit from medical cannabis and so far, many of them remain unaware that there is a safe, legal way to benefit from a plant that has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide range of chronic conditions.
“It’s encouraging to see that so many people in Britain are now open to using medical cannabis, what’s now needed is education that this medicine is legally available in Britain, and improves the lives of patients suffering from long-term conditions such as chronic pain and anxiety.”
Speaking on behalf of PLEA, External Relation Lead Pious told leafie “Since laws changed in 2018, only a handful of cannabis prescriptions have been issued by the NHS. Patients unable to fund private prescriptions are suffering due to the fear, stigma and financial barriers preventing them accessing this safe, and potentially life-changing, treatment. Even under the current regulatory framework, over a million patients are suffering from debilitating conditions that could benefit from medical cannabis access if they knew how to access it.”
A lack of education around medical cannabis is also impacting existing patients, with users routinely facing issues when consuming medicine in public. While prescribed cannabis flower can not be smoked, it can be inhaled using a dry herb vaporiser. “Last week one of our team was stopped by police whilst legally vaping outside a station and another refused entry to a venue,” Pious adds. “On both occasions they were carrying their medication exactly within the guidelines in its original packaging and with supporting documentation. Of incidents reported to us, it is always from flower and not oil products, with stigma mostly attached to the smell and automatically assumed to be illicit use.
“Until authorities are better educated on patient’s legal status, discrimination will continue. Medicating in public, being challenged, arrested or having their medication seized is still a daily fear for many patients, jeopardising their well-being in the process.”