A recently published survey report from Medical Cannabis Canada provides a snapshot of medicinal cannabis patients in that country and the challenges they face.
The survey report is based on the responses of a sample of 1,000 patients polled from July 28 to August 1, 2020.
Among the findings, just over half of patients were relatively new to using cannabis medicinally – three years or less. The most common conditions it was being used for were anxiety disorder, depression, and insomnia. As for how much patients were spending each month, for those with a medical document (which was 37%) the figure averaged out to CAD $159.10 and for those without a document, $118.10.
A significant proportion of patients reported reduced use of other medications as a result of medical cannabis use. For example, 41% said they had been able to reduce the use of anti-inflammatory medications. Reduction in opioid pain relievers was reported by 33% of those who had a medical document and 18% of those who didn’t.
Overall, 72% of patients said their medical cannabis use has decreased reliance on conventional medications.
While medical cannabis is much easier to access in Canada compared to countries such as Australia, there are still challenges.
Cost is seen to be one of the biggest barriers, with 41% considering cannabis from a legal licensed producer via mail order was not that (or at all) affordable. Even sourcing from legal recreational producers was seen as not that (or at all) affordable by 43% of respondents.
83% said stigma exists in the medical system regarding cannabis use and 57% found it difficult to find a healthcare provider to speak to about their use. 60% said they feel compelled to access medical cannabis from the unregulated market as the regulated system poses too many challenges.
In terms of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on medical cannabis access, 28% of medical document holders said it took longer to obtain, while 17% of non-holders had to wait longer.
Medical Cannabis Canada is a national non-profit patient advocacy with the goal of advancing the outcomes of all and ensuring access to treatment safely, equitably and with the support of health care professionals. The full survey report can be viewed here.