Australian Cannabis As Medicine Survey (CAMS-16) Results Released

CAMS - Australian medical cannabis survey
Image: Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics

It’s taken quite a while, but a survey report delving into the patterns of cannabis use for medical purposes in Australia back in 2016 has been published.

Legislation was passed in Australia in early 2016 to enable the “safe, legal and reliable” supply of medicinal cannabis products, but the legislation for frameworks for its use weren’t in place until later that year.

Prior to this occurring, researchers from the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics set out to examine the nature of people who used cannabis for self-identified medical reasons, along with the range of conditions or symptoms for its use and patterns of consumption. The initiative was known as the Cannabis as Medicine Survey (CAMS-16) and recruited respondents between April–October 2016 through online media and at professional and consumer forums.

Most of the 1,748 participants whose details were included were men (68.1%) with an average age of 37.9 years. The average reported period of medical cannabis use was 9.8 years.

The most common reasons given for use:

  • anxiety (50.7%)
  • back pain (50.0%)
  • depression (49.3%)
  • sleep problems (43.5%)

A significant amount of money was being spent on cannabis, averaging $68.60 per week. The most common form of consumption was inhaling (83.4%).

“Respondents self-reported overwhelmingly positive changes in the primary health condition being treated as a result of cannabis use, with more than 90 percent of respondents reporting an improvement,” state the researchers.

A disturbing revelation from the survey was 17% met DSM-5 criteria for moderate or severe cannabis use disorder. The DSM-5 is the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is used by mental health and other health professionals for diagnostic and research purposes.

The survey report has been published in the journal Medical Journal of Australia.

Other similar CAMS studies have been carried out each year by the researchers since 2016, but results of those are yet to be made publicly available. CAMS 2018 will be recruiting soon and the survey will again be carried out next year.

The Lambert Initiative is part of the University of Sydney and conducts research to discover, develop and optimise safe and effective cannabinoid therapeutics.