A forum for healthcare practitioners with an interest in medicinal cannabis
Webb M, Mansfield K. Public perception of medicinal and recreational cannabis and its effect on mental health: a survey of a regional Australian town. Australas Psychiatry. 2021 Apr;29(2):124-128. doi: 10.1177/1039856220970047. Epub 2020 Nov 9. PMID: 33167664.
Objective: To investigate beliefs about treatment capabilities of medicinal cannabis (MC), the effect of recreational cannabis (RC) on mental health and online cannabis search trends.
Method: Participants (n = 117) completed an online survey, and search engine optimisation software was used to analyse internet search trends.
Results: Half the participants perceived RC as harmful to mental health but were uncertain if it impairs treatment for depression or prevents anxiety. Participants believed MC can treat depression and/or anxiety. The Google keyword 'CBD oil' is most popular when seeking cannabis information and provides misinformation.
Conclusion: Australians are exposed to misinformation about MC online, explaining why participants believed that MC could treat anxiety and/or depression and why there is a reduction in the belief that RC is harmful to mental health. Health authorities should incorporate search engine optimisation strategies to provide accurate information about cannabis.