According to Levin Health, although medical cannabis was made legal in Australia in 2016, the vast majority was obtained via illegal avenues at first.
The CAMS-18 study of medical cannabis use in the Australian community found that between 2018 and 2019, only 2.7% of users had accessed legally prescribed medicinal cannabis. The 2020 iteration of that survey uncovered a significant increase, and 37.6% of respondents said they'd used prescribed medicinal cannabis within the last year.
Experts say that although cannabis obtained through illicit routes continues to dominate the market, the number of prescription-only users and dual users (that use both prescribed and illicit medicinal cannabis) is on the rise.
Patient access data shows as of September 2022, 841,000 Australians had legally accessed medicinal cannabis.
Levin Health says that prescribed users surveyed in the CAMS-18 research were most likely to be female, be in the higher age category, and be unemployed.
Why is there a trend toward medicinal cannabis prescribed by doctors? Levin Health explains that the benefits of prescribed cannabis are multi-fold, but the primary driving force behind the movement is safety.
Accessing medicinal cannabis via legal avenues comes with less risk than illegal markets. Patients using prescribed products get professional assistance with dosing and benefit from complete transparency of the CBD/THC composition of their products.
New research from the University of Sydney's Lambert Initiative shows that 95% of prescribed medicinal cannabis users reported improvements in their health, yet there's still some clear resistance to switching to all-prescribed products. The greatest barrier is cost. The CAMS-20 study found that prescribed users spend $70.20 AUD per week, compared to $58.60 AUD per week for illicit users.
Levin Health says, however, that there are signs to suggest medicinal cannabis in Melbourne and Australia-wide is on track to becoming more affordable.
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