The majority of chronic pain sufferers are reluctant to ask their GP about medicinal cannabis fearing judgement and dismissal, according to a new survey.

The 2020 National Pain Survey, released as part of National Pain Week starting today, found while more than three-quarters of respondents had ‘good’ or ‘okay’ knowledge of the science behind medicinal cannabis, only one-third had asked their GP about accessing it.

Among those who did raise it, most reported a negative or dismissive response:

  • “I asked my pain specialist and he just scoffed at me – said that everyone just wants to get high for free.”
  • “Very negative – said there is not enough evidence.”
  • “Laughed at me.”
  • “My GP told me it was illegal to use cannabis.”

Those who didn’t ask their GP about it blamed fear or cost for their reluctance:

  • “I didn’t ask because I was scared.”
  • “I know I can’t afford it so didn’t ask.”

The survey of 1,217 chronic pain sufferers found the vast majority of those who had been discussing medicinal cannabis with their GP for more than 12 months had noticed no difference in their GP’s willingness to prescribe the medication, with less than 11 per cent saying the situation had improved.

Most respondents (68.13 per cent) were unaware a pain specialist could prescribe them medicinal cannabis, meaning they were reliant on their GP to do so.

One commented: “It is easier to buy it illegally than it is to have it legally approved. Just get some and don’t tell anyone.”

While the survey sampled chronic pain sufferers aged between 18 and 75-plus throughout Australia, the vast majority were women (86.77 per cent).

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