Awareness of medical cannabis regulations among UK police officers – a cross-sectional study

Simon Erridge, Lucy Troup, Mikael H . Sodergren

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Introduction: Cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) were rescheduled in the UK in November 2018. Since this time there has continued to be a rise in the number of patients prescribed unlicensed CBMPs, with approximately 32,000 patients receiving treatment by the end of 2022 for conditions such as chronic pain, generalised anxiety disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. Despite this, it has been shown that approximately half of the general population are unaware of this change in scheduling, with patients prescribed CBMPs continuing to perceive themselves as being subject to stigma. Concerns around interactions with the criminal justice system and police officers may contribute to perceived stigmatisation. The aim of this study was to therefore assess awareness of current legislation governing CBMPs among police officers in the UK and whether they had received training on
the subject.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey study was conducted between 24th October – 1 st November 2022. The survey was designed by a multi-disciplinary team of academic clinicians and a cognitive neuroscientist with expertise in qualitative research. The questionnaire was distributed to serving police officers in the UK by Opinium Research, weighted to derive a representative sample (London, UK). Data was analysed utilising descriptive statistics.

Results: In total, 200 police officers completed the survey. 109 (54.5%) of respondents were male and 91 (45.5%) were female. 96 (48.0%) were aged between both 18-34 and 35-54, whilst 8 (4.0%) were aged over 55. Two-fifths (n=80; 40.0%) of participants had previously encountered someone who claimed to be in receipt of CBMPs. 143 (71.5%) respondents knew that CBMPs were legal on prescription in the UK, whilst 42 (21%) and 15 (7.5%) participants thought that they were not legal or were not sure of their legal status. 47 (23.5%) participants had received no formal training on this topic, whilst 85 (42.5%) had received training but believed it to be inadequate. 177 (88.5%) of police officers subsequently believed they would benefit from more training on CBMPs and how to identify legal medical cannabis patients.

Conclusion: Despite CBMPs being legally available on prescription for patients in the UK since 2018, a significant proportion of police officers are still unaware of this. Beyond this, police officers identified that they would benefit from further education on this topic. This may contribute to the stigma perceived by current medical cannabis patients. Implementation of national and local education focused at providing information on the legalities of CBMPs, what conditions it is prescribed for and which formulations it may be found in are necessary to help improve knowledge among police officers.
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


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