BlogRelease of the Releaf "Say No To Pain Report"

Release of the Releaf "Say No To Pain Report"

5 min read

Lucy MacKinnon

The UK’s latest medical cannabis survey, covering prevalence, perception and prejudicial pressures.
Here at Releaf, we are thrilled to announce the release of our first market research report that investigates the awareness and prevalence of medical cannabis in the UK, and analyses the public perceptions and societal stigmas that surround this powerful plant. 

The UK’s latest medical cannabis survey, covering prevalence, perception and prejudicial pressures.

Released in June under the title Releaf: Say No To Pain, this nationally representative survey of 4,210 UK adults was conducted in April 2023, and is the largest-ever survey of its kind to be conducted in the United Kingdom. 

We discovered that over half of the UK population could potentially benefit from medical cannabis treatments, and also identified the main barriers and stigmatisation that currently obstruct access to this multidimensional form of medicine. 

In releasing the results of our innovative survey we aim to raise awareness, improve access to, and help to remove the stigma from medical cannabis. 

The most significant and striking statistics discovered in the Releaf: Say No To Pain Report suggest:

  • It is estimated that around 283,200 people in the UK have received a legal medical cannabis prescription since 2018 – which amounts to less than 1% of those who may be eligible.
  • Around 46% of those who have been diagnosed with at least one health condition that may be eligible for medical cannabis treatment described living with significant distress and discomfort. The same percentage reported experiencing side effects from their current treatment options.
  • Although over two thirds of our sample said that they would consider medical cannabis as a treatment option, almost a third would be unlikely to feel comfortable telling their friends and family about their medical cannabis prescription. 
  • Almost 73% of respondents said that there was at least one societal stigma that would discourage them from consuming medical cannabis, even if their doctor had recommended it
  • Over a third of those that we surveyed said that they would be fearful of being mistaken for acting illegally if they were consuming medicinal cannabis, and almost a quarter were concerned about being questioned by the police. 

To read a full summary of these findings, access the Say No To Pain Report here. 

What we’ve learnt: societal stigmas

As well as revealing the immense prevalence of patients in the UK that may be eligible for medical cannabis, the Releaf: Say No To Pain Report identifies the prejudicial pressures that hinder widespread access to medicinal cannabis. We found this includes a fear of stigmatisation or judgement and a lack of knowledge and education surrounding the subject.

As a result of this landmark study we have gained valuable insight into how we can provide patients with extra security and peace of mind. To address the concerns 34% of adults had about being mistaken for acting illegally and 24% who admitted they’d be worried about police questioning, we created the first medical cannabis card of its kind in the UK to protect our patients. 

Supplied in the Releaf Welcome Box to each new patient, our Medical Cannabis Cards act as a form of ID and contain a QR code that can be scanned by the police to access up-to-date prescription information. 

Once scanned and viewing permissions have been approved by the patient, authorities will be able to view the patient's personal and prescription information. This includes the patient's full name, date of birth and address, the medication name, strength, dosage and quantity, as well as the prescriber’s details, including their GMC number and clinic information. 

Releaf CEO, Mason Soiza explains:

“We know that when challenged, showing an FP10 prescription can be intimidating and requires explanation or confirmation that the medication listed on the prescription is medical cannabis. We wanted to remove this fear factor and stop any challenges in their tracks by having a convenient card that requires no explanation.”

“Alongside this, it assists the UK Police Force as they can make a quick and confident decision that when the patient has a Releaf Medical Cannabis Card, they are consuming cannabis for medicinal purposes and their entire supply chain is completely, 100% legal.”

What we’ve learnt: public perceptions

Our report demonstrates also that there is significant confusion concerning the legality of medical cannabis in the UK. Over a third, or 34.8%, of respondents admitted they were unaware that medical cannabis has been legally available in the UK since 2018, and a further 23.7% said they were unsure of its legal status. 

Of the 41.5% that did know medical cannabis is legally available in the UK, 45% were aware medical cannabis can be prescribed to treat chronic pain, and 38% knew anxiety was also an eligible condition for medical cannabis treatment. 

However, less than 5% of these respondents were aware medical cannabis can also be prescribed to aid conditions such as menopause, rare and challenging skin conditions, Alzheimer’s disease, tennis elbow, HIV/AIDS, and gut-health conditions. 

To remedy this we have created an extensive educational cannabis content section for our website which has been designed to repeatedly publish reliable and accurate information about medical cannabis, in order to help raise awareness.

Speaking about the launch of our education section, Dr Stephen D’Souza, The Clinical Director at Releaf, said:

“There is a growing body of scientific research on medical cannabis with evidence of its potential therapeutic applications for various conditions, including chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and nausea associated with chemotherapy. Our Say No To Pain Report helps dispel misconceptions and fosters a more informed discussion around medical cannabis.

It's important to note that improving public awareness and education around medical cannabis are ongoing processes. As research continues and new evidence emerges, it is essential to adapt educational efforts to reflect the latest findings and promote responsible use of medical cannabis.”

The Releaf: Say No To Pain Report is the latest and largest national survey to analyse the potential prejudicial pressures that may hinder UK residents from accessing, or administering, medical cannabis. To read our summary of findings, or access the full report, click here. 

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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With five years of journalism and healthcare content creation under her belt, Lucy strives to improve medical cannabis awareness and access in the UK by producing high quality, credible content.

Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

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