The main objective of the Hodges Review was to examine the current cannabis sector landscape and outline how best to support the safe and responsible growth – economic and social – of a sizeable and dynamic legal sector that is already established in the UK.
Despite the growth potential and dedication within the industry, the report highlighted the accidental evolution of this market, which still lacks coordinated government action or a coherent strategy to steward it to maturity.
Public support for the UK’s cannabis sector and its future
A new survey of public attitudes towards cannabis in the UK was commissioned for the report. The results compiled by STACK Data Strategy found clear majorities in support of cannabis as a healthcare concept, being optimistic about its potential, and not fearful, cynical or dismissive.
While the UK’s legal cannabinoid sector is a relatively new industry, the public seem to show a high level of experience and/or awareness of some of its elements, especially medicinal access and the general availability of CBD.
According to this new data:
- Almost two-thirds of people were aware of CBD products before taking the poll, with women showing generally higher levels of awareness than men
- 1-in-10 people said they had ‘tried/used/ purchased’ CBD in the last year.
- There is a deep and broad level of support for the idea that cannabis can be an effective medical treatment
- 1-in-5 (19%) said they personally know someone whose health has benefited from medicinal cannabis
A big majority (63%) of respondents said they would be supportive if a family member was taking medicinal cannabis to address a health condition, with only 8% saying they would be somewhat or very opposed to it.
And almost 1-in-7 people (14%) said they had used cannabis ‘for health reasons or to treat a medical condition’ at some point in their lives.
Of those who had used for medicinal reasons whether prescribed by a doctor or not – a smaller sample of 215 – the vast majority (90%) experienced positive benefits, including a fifth (21%) whose symptoms were ‘completely resolved’.
When asked about consumer cannabinoids (CBD):
- More than a third (38%) of respondents said they buy their CBD products online, and 30% in high street shops
- 6% of all those surveyed – a higher than anticipated number – said they had given CBD products to their pet
- The most concerning thing for 43% of respondents was if the product was synthetic and not from natural ingredients, or if the product was not tested for purity (42%)
Those who expressed some hesitation towards CBD would be most likely to try a product if there was more public information about cannabinoids, how to take them (32%) and if the government made it clear that CBD was legal (32%)
On the reforms for the sector:
There was strong support for allowing all doctors, not just specialists, to prescribe cannabis as a treatment. Two-thirds of respondents (65%) believe GPs should be allowed to prescribe medicinal cannabis and family doctors/GPs scored highly on who would be trusted to prescribe it to you – more than a third (37%) of respondents would trust their GP to prescribe them medicinal cannabis
People believe the government should help lower the cost of cannabis supplied by private clinics (59%) so more people can afford it.
Almost half of respondents (46%) agreed that the government should allow British companies with a licence to grow cannabis here to export it overseas, and only 13% disagreed.
Meanwhile a large majority (64%) of respondents believe the government should do more to support scientific research into cannabis in the UK.
Respondents were also asked whether they thought in ten years the medical benefits of cannabis would be more widespread and accepted, with a majority (59%) agreeing and only 8% disagreeing.