HomeNewsTHC Vs. CBD: Australian Medical Cannabis Consumer Insights

THC Vs. CBD: Australian Medical Cannabis Consumer Insights

An Australian study of medicinal cannabis use indicates distinct demographic preferences between legally prescribed tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) products.

A group of researchers primarily affiliated with the University of Sydney based their study on data collected from the CAMS-20 survey.  Carried out by the University’s Lambert Initiative in 2020/21, CAMS-20 was an Australia-wide online anonymous cross-sectional survey of individuals self-reporting cannabis use for therapeutic or medical reasons.

This study focused on a subgroup of 546 participants using prescribed cannabis medicines and revealed significant differences in the demographics and preferences of medicinal cannabis (MC) users. Those prescribed THC-dominant products were typically younger, male, and favored inhalation as the route of administration. In contrast, users of CBD-dominant products were predominantly older, female, and indicated a preference for oral consumption.

Pain and mental health issues emerged as the leading reasons for using all forms of medicinal cannabis. THC was more commonly prescribed for these conditions despite its associated issues such as drowsiness, dry mouth, and eye irritation. Furthermore, the study also found that patients on opioids and antipsychotics were more likely to be prescribed THC-containing products, even though there’s a higher risk of impairment in these scenarios.

While the effectiveness reported by respondents was very positive, especially for THC-containing products, the researchers warned:

“Current prescriptions of these products do not always align with relevant clinical guidance. Educating prescribers around cannabinoid products is essential to ensure optimal prescribing practices and to prevent avoidable drug side effects and interactions.”

The dataset is somewhat dated; particularly when considering how the utilisation of legally prescribed medicinal cannabis has rapidly grown since CAMS-20. But the study does provide a better understanding of consumer experiences of using THC– and CBD-containing prescribed MC products within the Australian market.

Between January 2021 to December 2023, more than 1 million new Australian patients had commenced treatment with medical cannabis via Authorised Prescribers. The aggregate number between 2016 and the end of 2020 was just a tad over 18,000.

The University of Sydney study has been published in the journal PLoS One.

Gillian Jalimnson
Gillian Jalimnson is one of Hemp Gazette's staff writers and has been with us since we kicked off in 2015. Gillian sees massive potential for cannabis in areas of health, energy, building and personal care products and is intrigued by the potential for cannabidiol (CBD) as an alternative to conventional treatments. You can contact Gillian here.

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