We at the Medical Cannabis Council (MCC) are pleased to simultaneously launch our blog and with it some of the results from a recent survey on public sentiment towards medical cannabis. The full report detailing these results and the background of the study is coming soon. But first, some context for both the blog and the report.
We recognised that having a relevant, up to date blog will be a key aspect of our overall communications strategy. Through it we aim to keep you abreast of the important work of the MCC, as a voice for the unity of the medical cannabis industry in Australia. We will also use it as one of several platforms to engage in the global conversation about medical cannabis. So, we invite dialogue and discussion with you!
Here (link to archives), we chronicle our navigation through the process of supporting and generating a thriving medical cannabis industry —an industry which is expanding to meet the requirements of a growing number of patients who are recognising that medical cannabis can play a fundamental role in health and wellbeing across the lifespan.
The results are in…
In 2016 to 2017, The University of Sydney, MGC Pharma and BuddingTech conducted an unprecedented in-depth study of perceptions on medical cannabis. The results of this have revealed that there is extremely strong support for medical cannabis across various sectors — medical practitioners, public sector workers, patients, caregivers and the technology sector.
The full report is coming soon and in the meantime, below we highlight several key statistics. These will give you a sense of extant wide support for medical cannabis as well as some of the challenges ahead for the industry. Other questions in the survey pertain to health, technology, economics and environmental issues.
Firstly, 95% of 488 respondents think that medical cannabis should be available to patients in need. On the issue of epilepsy in particular, 72% agreed that medical cannabis is very effective for treating childhood epilepsy in everyday settings, 18% said it is just effective, with only 10% being neutral. Only 1% thought it was only slightly and less than that thought it was not at all effective.
Of the respondents who were registered practitioners and were therefore capable of prescribing medical cannabis to patients, 42% said yes, they would prescribe it. Another 26% said they would prescribe because they believe their patients would benefit from the therapeutic properties and 16% said they would only prescribe if sufficient evidence of treatment success was provided by credible medical sources. Only 3% said no, the current medical treatment pathways are longstanding, reputable and have minimal negative outcomes.
In terms of the challenges existing for medical cannabis being adopted in mainstream medicine in Australia, government approval was seen as the most significant one (74%), followed by resistance from large pharmaceutical companies selling traditional forms of medication (50%). The next biggest challenge was seen as acceptance of medical cannabis in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (50%) followed by adoption and acceptance by the medical industry (48%), community understanding (41%), community acceptance (31%), management of growing conditions and standards (19%), with a very small number feeling that resistance from patients would be a challenge (4%).
Looking at the potential economic benefits, if any, of legalising medical cannabis, 100% of those who responded selected improved standard of living for treated patients, thereby leading to increased income, productivity and employment. 67% selected job creation in the agricultural and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors. A further 42% was attributed to export opportunities and higher tax revenue, respectively.
The nuts and bolts of the survey:
Developed by University of Sydney, MGC Pharma and BuddingTech, with MCC conducting the data analysis, the survey comprises thirty quantitative multiple choice questions gauging sentiment in regards to the use of medical cannabis. Although there have been several surveys already conducted in Australia with regard to determining public sentiment on medical cannabis, this is the first study to go beyond basic questions and address some of the complexities surrounding the medical cannabis issue. The study focused on the opinions of particular stakeholder groups and their responses to questions relevant to their expertise. This provides more meaningful and considered results, allowing policy makers to determine what needs to change and be addressed in the medical cannabis space. It also gives market insight to the medical cannabis industry such as what future demand may be like and what challenges may exist on the road to regulation of the industry.
The report will be launched soon, so you please keep your eye on the blog for further information.