The number of people illegally purchasing marijuana to treat their chronic diseases has risen in the UK.
Nearly 1.8 million people abuse themselves using illegally obtained cannabis, up from 1.4 million in 2019, according to leading cannabis clinic MA Medica.
This statistic comes as a surprise to those in the medical cannabis field due to the legalization of medical cannabis in November 2018.Read:Energy poverty is linked to physical and mental health – our research proves it
According to the Journal of Cannabis Research, only 51.4% of the public knew medical cannabis was legal, while the remaining 48.6% thought it was either illegal or stated that they were unsure.
John Robson, CEO and Founder of MA Medica, said: “One of the biggest issues we face is raising awareness to the millions of people who currently transact themselves through the illicit market, that there is a regulated path.
There is a huge population of patients who want to get better, as opposed to wanting to get high.
“92% of the people who participated in our company’s survey were unaware of the possibility of obtaining a private prescription for medicinal cannabis flower.”Read:Build credible mental healthcare system: Chief Secy : The Tribune India
The stigma surrounding cannabis use is a major challenge for professionals who promote its use and can be a reason many people choose not to engage with the topic.
The Journal of Cannabis Research examined this in more detail, clearly showing that people not only share the stigma associated with cannabis but also strongly believe that there is not enough education and information provided to the public.
Insufficient education on alternative medicines in the UK may be one reason for the negative stigma attached to cannabis in the UK.
In an article published in the PEC Innovation Journal, the academics concluded, “Health education is an effective intervention for reducing stigma associated with medical cannabis.”
This means that more education about medical cannabis will lead to less stigma.
Without knowledge of unconventional medicines, many people also imagine the difficulty in obtaining medical cannabis.
Dr Simon Airridge, Head of Research and Access at Sapphire Clinics, said: “According to a recent survey we conducted, two-fifths of people were under the impression that it would be very difficult to access.Read:Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Market Size Worth
However, access has improved dramatically in recent years.
This is also confirmed by a study in the Journal of Cannabis Research, which shows the large number of people who have questions and doubts about medical cannabis.
The massive influx of CBD products onto the shelves in many supermarkets has not gone unnoticed with the British public but these products lack the crucial THC component found in the cannabis flower.
Robson of MA Medica said, “I have to stress that the products we prescribe must be grown or manufactured to certain pharmaceutical standards while these over-the-counter recreational products are regulated by the Food Standards Agency.”
If more people using marijuana illegally to treat their chronic illnesses did so through legal pathways, they would be able to find the right dosage, strain combinations and characteristics.
Robson continued, “Different strains and forms of cannabis, when consumed by different people, will stimulate and interact with the endocannabinoid system in the body, in different ways.”
Different individuals will have different reactions to the same strain and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
According to Business Cann, the number of private prescriptions for medical marijuana increased ninefold in 2021 compared to 2020.
All of the data shows that there is a clear and visible uptake in both the legal and illegal use of cannabis.
“The next five years of prescription cannabis could look vastly different than it does today,” Robson said.
Featured image credit: MA Medica