Medical cannabis is used by at least 2.7% of the Australian population

Over the past two years, a huge number of Australian doctors have registered to prescribe cannabis for medicinal purposes. This has likely had a significant effect on the number of Australians who use medicinal cannabis on a daily basis.

600,000 Australians use medicinal cannabis

The most accurate figure measuring the number of Australians who use medical cannabis in recent years comes from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, which is conducted every three years by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The last survey, which was conducted in 2019, estimated that 2.7% (or 600,000) Australians used medical cannabis at that time.

However, it’s unlikely that this figure is still accurate. Professor Iain McGregor, the Academic Director of the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney, has said There’s been a dramatic increase in the number of prescriptions issued for medicinal cannabis in the past two years… we have good evidence that the number of people using cannabis to treat ailments is substantially higher than this.’

In a bid to discover how many Australians use medical cannabis today, researchers from the Lambert Initiative recently released the latest version of the Cannabis as Medicine survey, or CAMS22. This survey intends to develop a greater picture of medical cannabis use across Australia and track the development of this burgeoning treatment across the country.

Why the number of medical cannabis users in Australia is likely greater than 2.7%

Since the last National Drug Strategy Household Survey in 2019, the number of doctors in Australia who are registered to prescribe medicinal cannabis has grown substantially from 144 doctors in 2019 to 1,701 today. The majority of these doctors have registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in the last two years.

Cannabis prescription figures paint a similar picture. Between 2016 and 2019, just 1,011 prescriptions for medicinal cannabis were issued. Since 2020, 295,515 prescriptions for medicinal cannabis have been issued in Australia. If you go on to count Australians with unofficial (illegal) access to medicinal cannabis, these numbers will likely be even higher.

The CAMS22 survey will give researchers a more detailed picture of medicinal cannabis use in Australia today and perhaps provide much-needed support to the nation’s growing medical cannabis industry.