Medical cannabis, CBD wellness products and public awareness of evolving regulations in the United Kingdom

J Cannabis Res. 2022 Oct 29;4(1):56. doi: 10.1186/s42238-022-00165-6.


Background: In the UK, legislation and regulations governing medical cannabis and over the counter cannabidiol (CBD) wellness products have rapidly evolved since 2018. This study aimed to assess the public awareness of the availability, regulations, and barriers to access medical cannabis and over the counter CBD wellness products.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey study was performed through YouGov® using quota sampling methodology between March 22nd and March 31st 2021. Responses were matched and statistically weighted to UK adult population demographics, including those without internet access, and analysed according to percentage of respondents. Statistical significance was defined by p-value < 0.050.

Results: Ten thousand six hundred eighty-four participants completed the survey. 5,494 (51.4%) respondents believed that medical cannabis is legal in the UK. 684 (6.4%) participants consumed CBD for wellness reasons, 286 (2.7%) were prescribed CBD for a medical reason and 222 (2.1%) consumed CBD for another reason. 10,076 (94.3%) respondents were unaware of April 2021 regulations meaning that all over the counter CBD wellness products in the UK must conform to European Novel Foods Regulations. The most frequently reported main barriers to accessing medical cannabis were its association with recreational cannabis (n = 2,686; 25.1%), being unsure if it was legal (n = 2,276; 21.3%) and being unsure what medical conditions its can be used for (n = 1,863; 17.4%).

Conclusion: A large proportion of respondents are unaware of the legislation and regulations surrounding medical cannabis and over the counter CBD wellness products. Lack of knowledge may present a barrier to safe access to either product.

Keywords: Cannabidiol; Cannabinoids; Cannabis; Medical cannabis; Social stigma.