The vast majority of patients using medicinal cannabis in Australia are still sourcing it illegally, according to newly released research by the University of Sydney.

The Cannabis As Medicine Survey (CAMS:18) of 1,388 medicinal cannabis users, conducted between September 2018 and March 2019, found only 2.7 per cent of patients were accessing legal products, two years after legalisation.

The main reasons cited by respondents for not using a legally prescribed product were cost, disinterest from the medical profession and stigma around cannabis use. The average spend per patient was A$82 per week.

“There continues to be
considerable demand for
medical cannabis in Australia that has not been completely met by available models of
prescription by medical practitioners.”

Professor Nicholas Lintzeris

Chronic pain (36.4 per cent), mental health (32.8 per cent), broken sleep (9.2 per cent), neurological problems (5.2 per cent) and cancer (3.8 per cent) were the main reasons for use.

Respondents reported high levels of effectiveness but also strong side effects and uncertainty around the composition and quality of the illegal products they were consuming.

The survey’s lead author Professor Nicholas Lintzeris said: “There continues to be considerable demand for medical cannabis in Australia that has not been completely met by available models of prescription by medical practitioners. The uncertainties experienced by people in the community around the cannabis products they are accessing illegally is a concern.”

The survey was a follow-up to CAMS:16, the largest national survey of medicinal cannabis users conducted prior to legalisation. It was conducted by the Discipline of Addiction Medicine in conjunction with the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney.

To read the full report, click here.