New Research Shows Cannabis Consumed ‘Blindfolded’ by Most Users - Few Know the Strain or Potency of What They Buy

For most people using cannabis their experience is akin going into a bar blindfolded, as the majority have no knowledge of the strains they’re consuming and the impact of the varying levels of compounds, a major new report from the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group finds.

The research found a real lack of education and awareness regarding two of the key components in cannabis, THC and CBD, and their effects. Different strains of cannabis contain varying levels of THC, CBD and other compounds, and these levels considerably impact the effect of cannabis when consumed. Yet 42% said that they didn’t know that THC is the key component that causes a ‘high’, while 55% didn’t know that cannabis with high THC and low levels of CBD seem to be more addictive and have worse effects on memory.

Of those respondents who use or have used cannabis:

·         60% said that they rarely or never had the option of choosing from different strains

·         58% didn’t know the name of the strain they were using

·         71% couldn’t approximate the ratio of THC and CBD in the cannabis they were cannabis

·         25% said that they would prefer to use less potent cannabis than that currently available to them

31% of survey respondents reported having used cannabis. While the average age of first use was 20 years old, a third (35%) said that they had used cannabis for the first time under the age of 18.

Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group CEO Rob Wilson said: “It’s worrying that almost a third of people report using cannabis, but the majority don’t know its potency or understand the impact of different strains. This is particularly concerning when a significant proportion of teenagers under 18 consume cannabis and the risks of high potency THC cannabis are so much higher at younger ages. The Government should review the evidence emerging from alternative approaches to cannabis across the world and see if there is a better model for the UK to protect our communities and particularly young people from the associated harms.” 

The research also found that eight out of ten people in the UK (79%) think that Government has not dealt well with the country’s drug problems. More than half (53%) feel that drug use is best seen as a health issue and should be dealt with by healthcare professionals focused on reducing harms rather than criminalising users. The majority of the British public (76%) think the threat of criminal punishment is not effective at deterring individuals from using drugs, and over a third (35%) admit to having used an illegal substance at some point.


Editors Notes

This poll was commissioned by the CDPRG and conducted by YouGov in June 2019. Interviews were conducted online with a nationally representative sample of 1690 respondents in Great Britain. The data tables are here:

The Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG) is a company limited by guarantee, operating as a not for profit entity. Parliamentarians associated with the Group and its supervision receive no remuneration for their roles within CDPRG. Below the Board, CDPRG has a Policy Advisory Council including MPs, peers, and GLA Assembly Members. The Policy Advisory Council draws on the eminent expertise of leading figures from the medical, health, ethics, economics and law enforcement sectors. Our website is

Access the full report ‘Public Attitudes to Drugs in the UK 2019: Is the UK ready for drug policy reform’? on the CDPRG website along with regional data for the top level survey findings.

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