- Around half of the 1.4million users are thought to use cannabis every day
- The total black market spend is estimated to be around £2.6billion a year
- Users range across all ages, social classes and genders, according to the poll
More than one million Britons are illegally using cannabis to treat illnesses from arthritis to anxiety, a survey has revealed.
Around half of the 1.4million users are partaking in the drug every day, with the total black market spend estimated to be £2.6billion a year.
The landmark YouGov poll of 10,000 people suggests almost three per cent of adult Britons use cannabis to treat a medical condition.
Users range across all ages, social classes and genders. Many also say they suffer from multiple illnesses.
The landmark YouGov poll of 10,000 people suggests almost three per cent of adult Britons use cannabis to treat a medical condition
Almost half of these users suffer from depression, with 650,000 self-medicating using the substance, while more than 586,000 claim they have anxiety.
Other frequent buyers include nearly a quarter of a million people with arthritis and 100,000 cancer patients.
Other illnesses people said they treated included cancer, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
Medical cannabis has been legal in Britain since November 2018, though it has been strictly regulated – meaning prescriptions are rare.
The survey shows that 40 percent of those with Huntington’s disease take the drug, as do a third of those with Parkinson’s and a fifth with MS.
The results are published today in ‘Left Behind – The Scale of Illegal Cannabis Use for Medicinal Intent’, a report from the Centre of Medicinal Cannabis.
Director Steve Moore said: ‘These shocking findings quantify what we long suspected: almost three per cent of the UK adult population are choosing to use cannabis rather than traditional pharmaceutical products to treat their chronic medical conditions.’
The report states that the use of cannabis ‘unnecessarily exposes’ users to significant personal risk, and calls on the government to review policies that block suffers from accessing cannabis medicines legally.
The Department of Health said: ‘We sympathise with those dealing with challenging conditions and have changed the law to allow patient access to cannabis-based products for medicinal use where clinically appropriate.
‘There is a clear need for more evidence to support clinical prescribing.’
IS MEDICINAL CANNABIS LEGAL IN BRITAIN?
Despite a law change to legalise medical cannabis last November, there have reportedly only been two NHS prescriptions written.
A lack of clear guidance on how to prescribe it and issues over funding for the drugs has prevented many patients from getting the drugs they are desperate for.
This means many who are battling severe epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and chronic pain are using costly private clinics to get hold of the drug.
Others have ventured abroad in search of medicines, with some bringing them into the UK illegally and risking jail.
Medicines derived from cannabis are not routinely available on the NHS because of concerns not enough research has been done into the benefits of THC.
THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, which advocates claim is what helps the medicines combat crippling pain and seizures.