Up to 1.4 Million People in the UK Self-Medicate with Illegal Cannabis

13th November 2019

A new survey has found that up to 2.8% of adults in the UK self-medicate with the use of illicit Cannabis products. The data has been released as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommended that two medical Cannabis products can now be prescribed through the NHS.

Cannabis has been credited by some researchers, for having the potential to treat a variety of conditions. Among the most researched are its effects on rare forms of Epilepsy, and Multiple Sclerosis. Subsequently, both of these conditions can now warrant a prescription for Cannabis-based medical products (CBMPs).

However, the survey, commissioned by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) and Cannabis Patient Advocacy & Support Services (CPASS), has revealed how crucial it is to continue research. The YouGov poll has found that up to 1.4 million adults are currently self-medicating with illegal Cannabis preparations.

Previous predictions of the number ranged from as low as 50,000 to 1.1 million.

Consequently, Dr. Daniel Couch, Medical Lead at the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC), said:

“The findings are astounding and present a national challenge. We urgently require robust clinical evidence to evaluate the safety and efficacy of cannabinoid medicines”.

In addition, the survey revealed how often participants used Cannabis to medicate, and how much they spent per month. According to the data, 56% of participants using street Cannabis were using illegal products on a daily basis, in order to manage their condition. A further 23% reported using Cannabis for medical use on a weekly basis.

Furthermore, it was revealed that 44% of medical Cannabis users spend up to £99 per month; and 21% spend between £100-199. 9% of users in this category spend nothing on Cannabis, implying that they grow it themselves, or are gifted it.

The CMC and CPASS also collected data regarding what conditions Cannabis was used to medicate, and demographics of users. These details are expected to be released in a forthcoming report from the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis.

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