Utah voters approved Proposition 2 to legalize Medical Cannabis in 2018. Our program was set in motion the following year. Since 2019, the number of Medical Cannabis users in Utah has continued to climb. So have the number of Qualified Medical Providers (QMPs). Overall, though, has cannabis consumption changed significantly in the last few years?
We know it has changed here in Utah simply because our program continues to evolve as lawmakers and regulators make adjustments. It would be curious to see how much evolution has taken place outside of the Beehive State. Common sense seems to dictate a lot of changes, but no one can say for sure without hard data.
Back in 2021, The Cannigma conducted their own survey designed to help them understand how recreational users saw themselves in relation to broader public opinion and policy. We will not get into all the details here. However, we are interested in what the survey revealed about Medical Cannabis.
The survey pulled in results from 204 female users and 162 male users. That gives us a total of 366 respondents. Of that number, 65% said they used cannabis as a substitute for other prescription medications. That in itself is rather interesting. Knowing what we know about chronic pain being the number one qualifying condition among Medical Cannabis users, we can speculate about the prescription medications users are hoping to avoid.
We also find it fascinating that 72% of the females reported using Medical Cannabis instead of prescription drugs while only 55.5% of the males reported the same thing. The disparity deserves a bit more investigation. Maybe future research will look into it.
One last thing we wanted to touch on is the fact that the survey revealed medical users reported more frequent cannabis consumption. Medical Cannabis users are more likely to use multiple times per day and on more days per week. No surprises there.
By its nature, Medical Cannabis is used a lot like most other prescription medications. Since its effects tend to wear off after a few hours, patients often consume cannabis multiple times per day. We expect, for most patients, this pattern of consumption to be consistent throughout any given week.
The one thing that makes this interesting is the fact that, when all is said and done, actual cannabis consumption is left to patients. Medical providers make recommendations. They offer sound advice. But when it comes time to actually medicate, individual patients determine delivery method, dosage, and frequency. Yet even without a written prescription with formal instructions printed on a label, patients still use Medical Cannabis like any other prescription medication.
Though we haven’t seen any sort of follow-up survey similar to the Cannigma survey from 2021, there is no reason to believe that Medical Cannabis users are doing things any differently in 2023. We think it’s safe to assume that patients still use their medicines on a daily basis, and probably multiple times per day.
What may have changed over the last two years is this percentage of consumers who use Medical Cannabis in lieu of prescription medications. We suspect that number might be higher, though we don’t have any clear data to prove it.
As things in the Medical Cannabis space continue to evolve, both medical providers and patients continue to learn. Most of what we learn is fresh and exciting. It is information that helps us all make better use of Medical Cannabis to improve health, wellbeing, and quality of life.