A new report has revealed that approximately 29.6 million people (50.2%) in the UK could be entitled to a medicinal cannabis prescription. Yet, just 0.48% of the population has been prescribed it.
The report has been released by Releaf, the UK’s first all-in-one medicinal cannabis e-clinic, campaigning to spread awareness and reduce the social stigma with the findings from a survey of 4,210 people – the largest ever study into attitudes towards medicinal cannabis in the UK.
As part of their campaign, vans have been driving across London with some of the most thought-provoking stats from their report.
Medicinal cannabis was legalised in the UK for prescriptions in 2018, and many studies have documented improvements in symptoms such as chronic pain, fatigue, anxiety and more. The most common treatable illnesses include chronic pain, depression, cancer and migraines.
Data from the report showed 45.6% of people in the research with a condition treatable with medicinal cannabis reported living with significant distress and discomfort. The most prevalent of the diagnosed conditions eligible for medicinal cannabis was anxiety, with 19.74% of respondents reporting that they had the condition.
Despite the staggeringly high prevalence of respondents living with health conditions that may be suitable for cannabis-based treatments, only two individuals revealed that they had received a prescription for medical cannabis, which represents 0.48% of our sample.
When compared to the UK’s population, this suggests that only 283,200 people, or less than 1% of patients that could potentially benefit from medical cannabis, can access medical cannabis through legal means.
Releaf’s report also asked respondents about their conditions’ impact on them, with 32.83% admitting their condition had limited their ability to work or study. As well as this, one in four (25.15%) said they were worried about their future health.
And while 83.7% of respondents knew cannabis could relieve various health conditions, more than half (58.5%) were unsure of its legal status in the UK.
Concerns around its social stigma were also an issue, with 34.16% of respondents discouraged from using medicinal cannabis as they were worried it would be mistaken as illegal, whilst approximately 1 in 6 (16.86%) worried their family and friends would disapprove.
Mason Soiza, founder and CEO at Releaf says: “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, we all must 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.”
Dr Stephen D’Souza, medical director at Releaf says: “Studies have shown for years the power of cannabis as a medicine to treat symptoms such as depression, migraines, gut health and more.
“While it has been legal since 2018, we know the perceptions of medicinal cannabis are still closely associated with the effects you see from recreational users of cannabis. Long-term, our goal is to bring further research into the UK on the efficacy of medicinal cannabis to help spread more awareness, and we hope this report will be a big step in trying to change these perceptions.”
Releaf is the UK’s first all-in-one medicinal cannabis e-clinic, offering a wholly online, discreet service for those who want to be assessed for prescription medical cannabis.
As part of its campaign, Releaf will also be launching the UK’s first all-in-one medicinal cannabis e-clinic later this summer, offering a wholly online, discreet service for those who would like to be assessed for prescription medical cannabis.
Unlike all other companies in the UK, Releaf completes the entire patient journey in one online platform. Firstly, prospective patients have a video consultation with a leading cannabis specialist doctor and, if approved, are offered a selection of strains along with a recommended dosage and then subscribe to receive the medical cannabis.