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New Report Analyzes Medical Pot Patients’ Consumption Habits

New Frontier Data’s new report explores how important it is to understand what medical marijuana patients want and need in order to make the best choice. Entitled “From Doctor to Dispensary: A Complete Picture of Medical Cannabis Consumers,” the report analyzes data from a recently published consumer survey, which includes input from 1,874 medical cannabis patients.

New Frontier Data believes that better understanding of medical patients could be a huge benefit to insurance companies. “The Federal Schedule 1 status of cannabis means that it has no recognized medical value. At the same time, almost every state in the U.S. allows for some form of medical cannabis use,” the report states. “This contradiction has resulted in millions of medical cannabis patients with the approval to use cannabis by their state and their doctor, but no access to insurance reimbursement for this medicine, which is usually highly taxed.”

With cannabis, pain is the number one condition that patients with medical conditions treat. (47% of surveyed respondents) followed by anxiety/panic attack (22%), depression (9%), sleep disorder (9%), PTSD (7) and neurological disorders (6%). 93% also believe that medical marijuana has helped them. 57% said that it had significantly improved their medical condition, while 36% stated that it had only marginally improved it.

Half of the patients said they used prescription drugs at present, including antidepressants (55%), painkillers (17%), muscle relaxers (27%), and arthritis (23%). More than half the patients reported that cannabis has replaced their prescription drugs.

While the federally legal status of cannabis remains a major obstacle to many sectors of this industry, there are changing opinions. “This information is especially useful to insurance companies who might view cannabis as a medicine with less potential harm and therefore less cost to them than other medications,” the report explained. “Less harm may also be a driver for the medical cannabis consumer as only 40% say that saving money is a reason for the substitution.”

New Frontier Data offers advice on how to best serve medical marijuana patients and average recreational users. Medical and recreational users prefer to consume cannabis by themselves or with others. Only 43% chose to consume products that have a mixture of cannabinoid and CBD content while 57% chose to use products that had more THC. However, medical cannabis consumers led with 54% for products that had “slightly more CBD than THC,” and 57% with products that contained “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.”)

It is also important for retailers to improve their service to medical cannabis patients. Patients are usually loyal to the strains they trust. Only 34% of those surveyed will select a different strain than they already know. Fifty-nine% usually choose the same cannabis strain. The majority of cannabis consumers (52%) and 50% (50%), spend $50-$200 per month on marijuana products. However, a smaller portion will spend over $200 (30% for medicinal and 33% to recreational).

“With all the focus on adult use legalization and the recreational consumer, it can be easy to forget that there is a large population 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 medical, there are certainly distinguishing factors for medical consumers as evidenced above. As cannabis continues its march towards federal medical acceptance, insurance companies, brands and retailers should be aware of the needs of this group and how to meet them.”