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  • Writer's pictureRich Hamilton



In a huge step forward, police chiefs in the UK have given their backing for the registering of medical cannabis patients and the issuing of a cannabis card. This move is a positive step forward in the path to legalisation as it would effectively de-criminalise cannabis for over 3 Million UK medicinal users.

The Police Federation of England and Wales is backing the plan alongside the National Police Chiefs Council, MP’s and current medical cannabis users. All of which have been working alongside companies in the medical cannabis industry who are funding the project to come up with the final design and implementation of this holographic photo ID card.

There is obviously a lot of work to be done in order to ensure that the cards are not forged or used by organised crime gangs but the mere fact that there is something in the pipeline is a massive step forward for the UK and shows a real change in terms of the standpoint of the police and how they are viewing cannabis use and possession. 

Jason Harwin of the National Police Chiefs Council had this to say on the matter: “the police service finds itself stuck in the middle of a situation where individuals should legitimately be able to access their prescribed medication but because of availability and cost they can’t and therefore to address their illness rely on having to use illicit cannabis”

Medicinal cannabis has been legal in the UK for 2 years already, not that many people would notice as doctors are either unable to prescribe it due to red tape or are still wary due to the lack of understanding, mis-information and stigma that surrounds it and that has been commonplace for so long. 

According to a “YouGov” survey carried out in 2019, 1.4 million people or 3% of the adult population of the UK currently use cannabis to self medicate but only a handful of these are doing so by prescription. There is thought to be less than 100 people who have actually managed to get hold of a cannabis prescription, which over a 2 year period makes the whole process seem not fit for purpose.

People who do push for a prescription are currently made to jump through hoops to obtain it. Although there are some cannabis based medicines that are licensed for GP’s to prescribe such as Epidolex for Epilepsy, Nabilone for chemotherapy side effects and Sativex for MS sufferers, any other cannabis based medicine are classed as unlicensed or a “special” and can only be prescribed by a specialist doctor and not a GP.

This has meant that access to medicinal cannabis for the majority UK population through the paths of the NHS system is currently pretty much non existent.

118 -It is of no surprise therefore that a large number of people who are using cannabis to treat medical conditions are buying it from the black market and in the process risking arrest, prosecution, criminal records or in the worst case a 5 year custodial sentence. This is a flaw in the system, one that the “CanCard” hopes to address.

The CanCard will be welcomed by police forces just as much as medicinal users as it gives law enforcement a legal justification for not arresting those found in possession. This will help to save precious police resources and time and preventing clogging up the justice system with unnecessary convictions and criminal records which can really damage someones reputation and life long prospects.

CanCard will come into effect as of November 1st and  will only be available to those who were  prescribed medicinal cannabis in private health clinics since the UK medical cannabis law reform in 2018. There is hope however that if successful, it could be used as an example of what responsible regulation looks like and be rolled out on a much wider scale, encouraging easier access for NHS patients to medical cannabis in the process.

This is something which is high on the agenda of Carly Barton. Carly conceived the idea of the CanCard and is also the UK’s most prominent advocate for medicinal cannabis law reform. 

Carly has backing for CanCard from the Police Federation which represents every rank and file officer in the UK, some of the most senior clinicians in the UK and also from PCCN, the Primary Care Cannabis Network. The PCCN work with GP’s to help increase their knowledge and understanding of cannabis in order to make them more well placed to become key prescribers of medical cannabis.

The credibility of this project is so high that it can surely only pave the way for ‘real’ change and help us to obtain ‘real’ and easy access to medicinal cannabis for those that need it. It could also signal a sign of the times for things to come and the further decriminalisation of cannabis in the UK!

By Rich Hamilton

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By Rich Hamilton 

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