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More than a million Brits use illegal cannabis to treat chronic health conditions

Cannabis is used for conditions such as depression, anxiety and chronic pain

Around 1.4 million Brits are using illicit cannabis to treat chronic health conditions, a survey has found.

The YouGov poll of 10,602 adults reveals people across Britain are using cannabis therapeutically across all age groups, social classes, family groups, and genders, with almost half spending over £100 a month on their symptomatic relief. 

The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis estimates 653,456 people in the UK are using cannabis for depression, 586,188 for anxiety, 326,728 for chronic pain, 230,631 for arthritis, 182,583 for insomnia and 177,778 for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The bulk of people treating themselves with cannabis are aged 18 to 44 (71.4%).

The poll found 80% of people treat themselves with cannabis daily or weekly, while the highest mean expenditure per month was for Parkinson’s disease (£357).

As a proportion of people with a disease, the most frequent cannabis users were Huntington’s disease (41.67%), schizophrenia (41.18%), Parkinson’s disease (30.43%), autism spectrum disorder (20.39%), multiple sclerosis (19.23%), and PTSD (17.37%).

Daniel Couch, medical lead at the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis, said the data demonstrates the hidden personal, moral and societal costs of using street cannabis.

“The tried and tested drug evaluation process does not take these non-clinical and wider-societal risks into account so therefore may not be suitable for the assessment of medicinal cannabis. We must debate an adaptive onward approach for the UK,” he stated.