New report analyzes consumption habits of cannabis patients

A new report from New Frontier Data examines the need to understand what medical cannabis patients are currently seeking and needing in cannabis medicine. The report, titled “From Doctor to Dispensary: ​​A Complete Picture of Medical Cannabis Consumers,” analyzes data from a recently released consumer survey that included contributions from 1,874 medical cannabis patients.

New Frontier Data argues insurance companies could benefit most from better understanding medical patients. “Cannabis’ Federal Schedule 1 status means it has no recognized medicinal value. At the same time, almost every state in the US permits some form of medicinal cannabis use,” the report states. “This contradiction has resulted in millions of medical cannabis patients being granted cannabis use approval by their state and physician, but not having access to insurance reimbursements for this normally heavily taxed drug.”

The most common conditions medical patients treat with cannabis include pain (47% of participants surveyed), followed by anxiety/panic attacks (22%), depression (9%), sleep disorders (9%), PTSD (7%) . , neurological disorders (6%). Additionally, 93% of medical cannabis users say cannabis has helped them, with 57% saying it has significantly improved their health (while only 36% say it has only slightly improved their condition).

Fifty percent of patients reported currently taking prescription medications, primarily antidepressants (45%), muscle relaxants (27%), arthritis (23%), sleep aids (20%), and opioids for pain (17%). Over half of the patients also reported replacing some or all of their prescription medications with cannabis as well.

The federally illegal status of cannabis is a stumbling block for many parts of the industry, but opinions about cannabis are changing quickly. “This information is particularly useful for insurance companies, who may view cannabis as a drug with less potential harm, and therefore a lower cost to them, than other drugs,” the report stated. “Less harm could also be a driver for the medicinal cannabis user, with only 40% saying saving money is a reason for substitution.”

New Frontier Data also advises on how brands can best serve medical cannabis patients versus the average recreational user. Both medicinal and recreational users prefer to use cannabis alone or without others. For products with a hybrid cannabinoid content, only 43% of medicinal consumers chose products with more THC than CBD, compared to 57% of recreational consumers. However, medicinal cannabis consumers led with 54% for products containing “slightly more CBD than THC” and 57% for products containing “much more CBD than THC.”

Overall, the report found that 55% of medical consumers believe it’s very important to consider minor cannabinoids or terpenes when making a purchase (with 23% saying “I don’t know what that is”).

Retailers will also update their approach to catering to medical cannabis patients, as they typically have strong allegiance to strains they know to be effective. Fifty-nine percent usually or always choose the same variety, while only 34% switch between options they are familiar with. Most consumers, both medical (52%) and recreational (50%), typically spend around $50-$200 per month on cannabis products, while a smaller percentage spend more than $200 (30% on medical and 33% for leisure).

“With all the focus on legalizing adult and recreational use, it’s easy to forget that there is a large group of consumers who rely on cannabis for their physical and mental health,” the report concluded. “And while some may argue that all cannabis use is medicinal, there are certainly differentiating factors for medicinal consumers, as shown above. As cannabis continues its march toward federal medical acceptance, insurance companies, brands and retailers should be aware of the needs of this group and how to meet them.”

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