This survey was to investigate the extent and range of consumption of cannabis for medicinal purposes in the UK and reported effectiveness versus other treatment options. It was commissioned by the APPG for Drug Policy Reform in order to support their Short Inquiry into Cannabis and Medicine and can be downloaded in full by clicking here.
Subjects were invited to respond if they identify as a medical consumer of cannabis.
Medicinal cannabis consumption was reported by patients with a wide range of conditions including depression (30%), Anxiety (26%), chronic and severe pain (24.1%), Arthritis (12%), Insomnia (21%), fibromyalgia (9%), PTSD (7%).
Whilst caution must be exercised in interpreting these data, they point to the need for immediate legal access to cannabis for patients under the supervision of a doctor.
Top Medical Cannabis Conditions
Whilst the figures for Depression and Anxiety may seem surprising, but they are broadly in line with general population statistics for those conditions and comparable with other recent studies from around the world:
It should be noted:
• Ave length of condition = 15Yrs – Median 11
• Ave length of cannabis use = 8.1Yrs – Median 5
There is a much higher prevalence of cannabis consumption after diagnosis than before, reflected across all major conditions reported - This is an area for further analysis/research.
• Respondents were invited to record all diagnosed conditions. Over 200 different conditions were reported which have been sorted into categories as defined in ICD-10
• 37% of respondents reported a single condition 27% (2 conditions), 17% (3), 9% (4), 10% (5 or more)
• 36% of respondents reported one or more mental health conditions
The vast majority 80% of reported mental health conditions can be categorised as a “Common Mental Disorder” such as Depression and Anxiety
• Categories have been defined using the UK Health and Safety Executive Mental Health Report from 2014:
Prescription Medications vs Cannabis
• Only one respondent reported “Much” and no respondents reported “Severe” side effects from cannabis.
• 62% reported none.
• No respondents reported cannabis either making symptoms worse or having no positive effect
- 23% of respondents reported non-medical side effects of cannabis such as legal issues and fears, social stigma, supply regularity, quality and cost.
- These have been reported separately from medical side effects.
- Many of the Side-Effects are reported as temporary or short-term and often dose related which can be easily adjusted.
- “Munchies” is reported both as positive and negative. An area for further analysis.
Prescription Medications Reduced or Replaced by Cannabis
These are the medications reported by participants which have been significantly reduced or completely replaced by consuming cannabis
65% of the Analgesic medications that patients were prescribed are opiate based, for example; Tramadol
How do you Obtain your Cannabis Medicine?
• Nearly 20% of respondents did not answer this question.
• 19.4% of patients supplied by a home grow/club grow/friend grow (GYO = Grow Your Own)
• 72% of patients have to obtain their medicine from street dealers: Combination of Street (53%) and Friends (19%) as those reporting “Street” or “Friends” can be assumed to be the same source:
What was the view of your GP or Consultant about your cannabis consumption?
• 37% of respondents have not told or discussed their consumption of cannabis with their doctor due to related fears.
• A neutral response from the doctor could indicate tacit support due to fear from the doctor about their career if giving a positive response which would not be there if wishing to give a negative one which would mean 61.5% of doctors were supportive
• Only 25.8% of doctors expressed negativity
• Females are much less likely to report their cannabis use to their doctor. This is could be due to legal/Social Services fears and the potential impact on family
What "THC/CBD" balance works best for you?
• Higher THC preferred by 25%
• 40% of patients prefer a 1-1 balance
• 65% Balanced one way or another
• 16% prefer a variety of strains and strengths
- Significant difference in proportion of respondents choosing High CBD
How do you Consume Cannabis?
• Comments: Hash is only used by respondents who cannot acquire anything else.
• Respondents reported a number of different types and methods of consumption. The relative proportions were not captured.