Self-reported medicinal cannabis use in Flanders. A study of user profiles and patterns of use.

Research Period

1 October 2015 – 31 December 2018




Frédérique BAWIN

Key Words

Medicinal cannabis, self-reported, patterns of use, user profiles, drugs


While scientific knowledge on the therapeutic effects of cannabis extends, data on patterns of medicinal cannabis use and profiles of medicinal users are scarce. Available international research focuses on pain relief by individuals formally diagnosed with a chronic illness like MS, HIV or cancer. We know hardly anything about whether and how people use cannabis for medical purposes in Belgium. Those who report to use cannabis medicinally do so illegally and without assurances of quality control. They have to obtain cannabis from illicit sources and experiment with self-medication, without the supervision of a medical professional. Given the dearth of information, this study aims to explore the broad variation in user profiles as well as the use patterns and experiences of medicinal cannabis users in Belgium. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we want to unravel medicinal cannabis use both from a medical and criminological perspective. The originality of the study lies in the fact that we focus on selfreported medicinal cannabis use (i.e. label ‘medicinal use’ is defined by the individual him/herself) broadening the scope of the international studies where only chronically ill patients with a formal diagnose are included.


In order to explore and understand the profiles, characteristics and experiences of those ‘labelling’ themselves as medicinal cannabis user, the researcher will undertake the following methodological steps:

  1. Literature review
  2. Qualitative semi-structured interviews with experts from different disciplines
  3. Web survey focussing on the self-reported medicinal cannabis use in Flanders
  4. Qualitative semi-structured interviews with medicinal cannabis users

Through a mixed method design, including in-depth interviews and closed-ended written questionnaires, we want to collect both qualitative data on attitudes, perceptions and experiences; and quantitative data on medical attributions and indicators.


  • BAWIN, F. (2018). Medisch gebruik van cannabis en zijn psychoactieve werking : een paradox? VERSLAVING, 1–13.
  • PARDAL, M., & BAWIN, F. (2018). The supply of cannabis for medical use through Cannabis Social Clubs in Belgium. CONTEMPORARY DRUG PROBLEMS.
  • BAWIN, F. (2017). The ban on cannabis in Belgium : implications for medicinal cannabis users’ access to cannabis. Presented at the IACM 9th Conference on Cannabinoids in Medicine.
  • BAWIN, F. (2017). Exploring indications for medicinal cannabis use based on users’ narratives and experiences. Presented at the Common Session in Critical Criminology.
  • BAWIN, F., & PARDAL, M. (2017). Supply of cannabis for medical use through Cannabis Social Clubs : an analysis of Belgian practices. Presented at the 4th Contemporary Drug Problems Conference.
  • BAWIN, F. (2015). Self-reported medicinal cannabis use in Flanders. Common Session on Critical Criminology, 2-4 December, Rotterdam (the Netherlands).