Medical cannabis in the United Kingdom (UK) - Statistics & Facts

In November 2018, medical cannabis was legalized in the United Kingdom, meaning cannabis can be prescribed if no other licensed medicine could be of help to the patient. The policy of cannabis legalization for medical purposes is supported overwhelmingly by the British population. At the current moment, GPs are not able to prescribe cannabis to patients, only a specialist doctor can do this. Furthermore, the NHS will only advocate the use of medical cannabis in three circumstances: in cases of rare, severe epilepsy; to deal with chemotherapy effects such as nausea, or to help with multiple sclerosis.

The medical cannabis market in the UK is predicted to soar. At the end of 2019, there were less than 250 active medical cannabis users in the country; by 2024, this figure is expected to be over 337 thousand. The potential of the market in the UK is clear when the number of sufferers of medical conditions for whom medical cannabis is legal and available in other countries is taken into account. For example, there are 400 thousand sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis in the UK who could benefit from medical cannabis, and 360 thousand cancer cases a year for which medical cannabis could be available to combat the worst effects of chemotherapy. Furthermore, in 2028, the medical cannabis market in the UK is predicted to have a revenue of approximately 8.8 billion euros, which is forecast to be the second biggest in Europe, behind only France. The possible capacity of the medical cannabis market in the UK can be further seen in a survey that found over three-quarters of Brits would take medical cannabis if it was prescribed by a doctor.

In the UK, 15 percent of the population have consumed cannabis at some point in their lifetime. The prevalence of use rises among younger age groups, with almost 30 percent of those aged between 18 and 24 years admitting to having used cannabis. Although with lower support than that of legalizing medical cannabis, the legalization of cannabis for general use is supported by the majority of the British population. According to the survey carried out in 2018, 59 percent of Brits would support the legalization of cannabis, with nearly 70 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds backing legalization. Additionally, 52 percent oppose the prosecution of those using cannabis unlawfully for medical conditions.

Due to the current narrow medical cannabis legislation in the UK, there is a large amount of people in the country who turn to illegal cannabis to relieve their symptoms and side effects of health conditions. It is estimated that over 41 percent of those currently suffering from Huntingdon’s disease and schizophrenia use cannabis obtained from the ‘street’ to help with their issues. 56 percent of those taking cannabis for medical conditions are using daily to abate their symptoms, with a further 24 percent doing so weekly. Likewise, sufferers are spending substantial monthly amounts of money on cannabis, illustrating that a wider ranging medical cannabis law would benefit a great deal of people financially as well as medically.

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Medical cannabis in the United Kingdom (UK)

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