A recent study by the University of Sydney’s Lambert Initiative found 37% of respondents who use cannabis medically received a legal prescription under Australian law. In 2018, that figure was just 2.5%.
The researchers found that those who only used prescription cannabis tended to be older, female, and less likely to be employed.
Professor Nicholas Lintzeris, the lead researcher for the third Cannabis as Medicine Survey from the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney, said the data suggests “a transition from illicit to legal use of medical cannabis.”
“A number of benefits were identified in moving to prescribed products, particularly where consumers reported safer ways of using medical cannabis. People using illicit cannabis were more likely to smoke their cannabis, compared to people using prescribed products who were more likely to use oral products or vaporized cannabis, highlighting a health benefit of using prescribed products.” — Lintzeris in a press release
The study found 95% of respondents reported improvement in their health after using cannabis medically. The research found the most common reason for medical cannabis use – either legally or illegally – was pain. Fifty-two percent of survey respondents who used cannabis legally used it for pain, along with 40% of those who use it medically but without state approval. Another 26% of patients who were registered with the state used cannabis for mental health reasons, along with 37% of those not registered. Six percent of patients used cannabis for sleep, along with 11% of non-registered consumers.
In all, the majority of respondents – 24% of registered patients and 3% of unlawful consumers – said that accessing medical cannabis in Australia is “straightforward” or “easy.” The average legal cannabis patient spent AU$79.20 per week on cannabis, compared to AU$58.60 for non-registered patients. Individuals who said they used cannabis for both medical and recreational purposes said they spent AU$114.00 weekly.
The survey, which is conducted every two years, was published in the Harm Reduction journal.
Get daily cannabis business news updates. Subscribe