A new poll reveals 2.8% of the British adult population is using “street cannabis” for medicinal purposes – up to 1.4 million people.
A survey carried out for the Center for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) and Cannabis Patient Advocacy & Support Services (CPASS) by YouGov found the number of people using illicit cannabis medicinally appears to be far higher than previous reports that pegged the numbers anywhere from 50,000 and 1.1 million.
“The findings are astounding and present a national challenge,” said CMC’s Medical Lead, Dr Daniel Couch. “We urgently require robust clinical evidence to evaluate the safety and efficacy of cannabinoid medicines.”
Of the group using street cannabis medicinally, the polling found:
- 56% were using cannabis on a daily basis to manage their condition.
- 23% are using cannabis a weekly basis.
- 9% spent nothing on cannabis – this indicates self-growing (or perhaps gifted)
- 44% spent up to £99 per month.
- 21% are spending between £100 and £199
Initial results from the poll were released on the same day National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines were released for prescribing cannabis-based medicinal products for patients with intractable nausea and vomiting, chronic pain, MS related spasticity and severe treatment-resistant epilepsy. Two products have been approved for use under the National Health Service (NHS) – Epidyolex and Sativex.
Epidyolex (known as Epidiolex outside the EU) is a very expensive cannabidiol (CBD) based product. Maker GW Pharmaceuticals announced in September it had received marketing authorisation for the formulation in all 28 EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Epidyolex is primarily used for managing seizures in severe forms of childhood epilepsy. It was approved for use in managing Lennox‑Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome by the US FDA in June last year.
Sativex is a tetrahydrocannabinol-cannabidiol (THC : CBD) oromucosal spray primarily used for treating muscle spasticity in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.
The CMC welcomed the new NICE guidelines but urged the Government to accelerate patient access and clinical learning via the NHS based on the results of the polling data. The body said it will soon set out new proposals for how NICE should evaluate cannabis based medicinal products over the next 5-10 years.