Attitudes to medical and recreational cannabis use: a UK perspective

Simon Erridge, Alysha Shetye, Nagina Mangal, Lucy Troup, Mikael H. Sodergren

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Introduction: Since 2018, medical cannabis has been available on prescription to patients in the United Kingdom (UK) who have failed to receive sufficient benefit from licensed therapies for chronic physical and mental health conditions. Despite this prior research suggests that approximately 84.4% of legal medical cannabis patient perceive themselves to be subject to stigma. Opinion polling suggests that a rising number of members of the public are increasingly in favour of the government’s decision to reschedule cannabis for medical purposes. Although the support is less strong there is also rising support for the liberalisation of polices regarding recreational cannabis consumption. However, there is a paucity of data on specific attitudes towards both medical and recreational cannabis use in the UK. This pilot study aimed to evaluate public attitudes towards both uses of cannabis at a public engagement event to inform future evaluation on a population basis.

Methods: The Recreational and Medical Cannabis Attitude Scale (RMCAS) was distributed to attendees at a public engagement event at Imperial London. The survey was hosted by the Qualtrics XM Platform™ (Qualtrics, Seattle, Washington, United States) and completed on electronic tablets. The RMCAS is a validated assessment tool with a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.86 and 0.91 for assessment of attitudes towards medical (MCAS) and recreational cannabis (RCAS) respectively. Each scale ranges from 6-30 points with higher scores indicative of more favourable attitudes towards either medical or recreational cannabis. Analysis was conducted utilising SPSS® version (IBM®, New York, United States). Statistical significance was defined as p
Results: Twenty-one participants completed the RMCAS. The mean age of participants was 30.3 ± 15.7 years. Twelve (57.1%) and eight (38.1%) participants were female and male respectively, with one participant (4.8%) preferring not to disclose their gender. The most common ethnicity was white (n=12; 57.1%), with participants also representing Asian (n=2; 9.5%) black (n=1; 4.8%), mixed (n=4; 19.0%), and other (2; 9.5%) ethnic backgrounds. Median MCAS scores (27.0; interquartile range: 20.0-28.5) were higher than median RCAS scores (22.0; interquartile range: 16.0-25.5; p
Conclusions: This pilot study highlights that attitudes towards medical cannabis use are more favourable compared to recreational use. Most individuals were, however, in favour of legalisation of cannabis for both medical and recreational use. However, the findings must be interpreted accepting the limitations of a limited sample size, which lacks geographic diversity. This study will be utilised to inform a follow-on population study which aims to assess these findings across a weighted population sample to determine current attitudes to medical and recreational cannabis in the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2023
EventInternational Cannabinoid Research Society - Canada, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 24 Jun 202329 Jun 2023


ConferenceInternational Cannabinoid Research Society
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Attitudes to medical and recreational cannabis use: a UK perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this