HOW MANY PEOPLE USE CANNABIS IN THE UK?
The data from a YouGov survey of 10,602 adults is published in a new report Left Behind - The Scale of Illegal Cannabis Use for Medicinal Intent. The report reveals that people across Britain are using cannabis therapeutically in across all age groups, social classes, family groups, and
both genders, with almost half spending over £100 per month on their symptomatic relief. After extrapolating survey results CMC have estimated that a startling 653,456 people in the UK are using cannabis for depression, 586,188 for anxiety, 326,728 for chronic pain, 230,631 for arthritis, 182,583 for insomnia and 177,778 for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
● Cannabis is used across all socio-demographic groups 56% of those self-medicating are people from social classes C2DE whilst 44% are from ABC1
● The bulk of people treating themselves with cannabis are aged 18-44 (71.4%), but a significant number of users are aged over 55 (14.6%)
● 80% of people treat themselves with cannabis daily or weekly
● 55.8% reported using cannabis as a medicine on a daily basis, 23.4% on a weekly basis, 8.5% on a monthly basis
● 42% of people using cannabis to treat themselves spend over £100 a month on cannabis
● 9% reported spending nothing to acquire cannabis per month, suggesting they either grow their own or are given it by a friend/carer
● The highest mean expenditure per month was for Parkinson’s disease (£357)
People are using cannabis to treat a variety of conditions.
The YouGov poll found that people are treating themselves for the following diseases (sorted by number of people): Depression, anxiety, chronic pain, arthritis, insomnia, PTSD, autism spectrum disorder, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, high blood pressure, cancer, schizophrenia, spinal cord injury, peripheral neuropathy, epilepsy, glaucoma, heart disease,
immunosuppression, multiple sclerosis, vascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington's disease and HIV/AIDs.
As a proportion of people with a disease, the most frequent cannabis users were Huntington's disease (41.67% of those with Huntington's), schizophrenia (41.18%), Parkinson’s disease (30.43%), autism spectrum disorder (20.39%), Multiple Sclerosis (19.23%), and PTSD(17.37%).
The monetary, ethical and social cost to individuals using cannabis to relieve their symptoms is high, and unnecessarily exposes them to significant personal risk. At present there are a limited number of appropriately sized clinical trials assessing the therapeutic value of cannabis-based medicines, reflected recently by the calls from NICE and the National Institute for Health Research for focussed research.