Survey of Australian’s knowledge, perception and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes

Peter Gates, Stephanie Todd, Jan Copeland

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Objective: Changes to national and some state’s policy on the cultivation and prescription of cannabis for medicinal purposes will soon directly impact Australian medical practitioners. We investigate differences in demographics, use patterns and the perceptions held by individuals who use cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes and non-users.
Method: Online survey advertised on the newsfeed of Australian Facebook users aged 18 years or over between March and May of 2016. A total sample of 1578 completed the survey, 199 (12.61%) were noncannabis users, 489 (31.99%) were recreational-only users, 82 (5.20%) were medicinal-only users, and 808 (51.20%) used both recreationally and medicinally. Detailed questions regarded demographics, health, substance use, and knowledge and perceptions of medicinal cannabis use and policy in Australia.
Results: The sample most commonly perceived cannabis to effectively treat pain and mental health conditions. Most medicinal users also reported frequently smoking cannabis for non-medicinal purposes. Overall, participant knowledge did not accurately reflect the current evidence base for medicinal cannabis. Differences by cannabis use motivation are discussed.
Conclusions: This survey highlights important differences between non-users and current medicinal and non-medicinal cannabis users in demographics, patterns of cannabis use and regarding knowledge and perceptions of medicinal cannabis. The mismatch between the state of evidence to inform safe and effective clinical practice and beliefs of medicinal cannabis users must be addressed and may negatively impact clinical rapport and patient outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Addiction and Prevention
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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