The proposal of a Cannabis Card is specifically for those in need of medical cannabis and could help millions of patients in the UK if brought into practice.
It will identify the holder as a “registered medical cannabis patient” and officers say it will give them a justification for not arresting someone in possession of the drug and up to three and a half million people with cancer, multiple sclerosis, depression, arthritis and several other illnesses could be eligible to use the card.
The cannabis card, or CanCard, is a private a initiative that commences in November proving those who need medical cannabis but cannot afford a prescription and in turn helping them to avoid arrest.
This proposal has been supported by the Police Federations of England and Wales, and the National Police Chiefs Council.
Why is a Cannabis Card needed?
Almost 3% of the adult population [1.4m people] in Britain are purchasing cannabis illegally to treat a medical condition are growing their own cannabis plants speding £2.6bn a year on the back market (YouGov survey 2019). A further two million who are not using cannabis may be eligible for the card research suggests.
Cannabis usage is across all age groups, social classes and genders as medical conditions do not discriminate. These medical conditions include: depression, anxiety, chronic pain, arthritis, insomnia, cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, parkinson’s disease and huntington’s disease.
Currently, the law states that a person caught in possession of cannabis without prescription could face up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or even both.
The people who would have access to this card are those that should be able to access prescribed medical cannabis as a medication however due to certain obstacles such as its accessibility, availability and cost, they haven’t been able to do so and therefore turn to the black market to help in alleviating symptoms they suffer from.
What is medical cannabis?
On 1 November 2018 medical cannabis was made legal in the UK. Cannabis medicines were moved from Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations, meaning they have no therapeutic value, to Schedule 2, to recognise there is conclusive evidence of benefit for some patients.
From that date, specialist doctors were allowed to prescribe cannabis medicines "where there is an unmet clinical need" following a recommendation from the Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies.
Medicinal cannabis is currently unlicensed so doctors can prescribe it only if a patient has a need that can’t be met by ‘licensed’ medicines.
GP’s are NOT allowed to prescribe cannabis-derived medicines, it has to be a specialist consultant i.e. neurology or paediatrics who are required to consider each patient individually and must be satisfied that it is the right option for the patient having exhausted all other available treatments
Access to medical cannabis products has remained very difficult for patients, due to NICE only recommending the use of certain medical cannabis products for a small number of health conditions which in turn forces many to purchase cannabis illegally from the black market.
What is the difference between CBD oil and medical cannabis?
CBD oil which is usually 100% natural contains the cannabinoid, Cannabidiol (CBD) derived from the cannabis plant, and is sold as a food supplement that has received a lot of positive anecdotal evidence from its users.
Any legal CBD oils in the UK will have no traces of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and as CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid there is no ‘high’ effect or form of intoxication. CBD oil is known to work with the human body’s endocannabinoid system, assisting in keeping the body healthy and balanced, due to this interaction, CBD oil is known to have many therapeutic benefits.
Medical cannabis refers to any kind of cannabis-based medicine that is available on prescription and usually contains cannabidiol (CBD) and a small amount of the illegal cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Why are are the police supporting the introduction of a cannabis card?
The Police Federation of England and Wales, which represents rank and file officers, has endorsed the cannabis card scheme and the National Police Chiefs Council, which represents senior officers, is working with the card’s organisers on the design and implementation of the cannabis card.
Police officers are increasingly finding themselves arresting patients with debilitating conditions who use cannabis to alleviate their symptoms.
Simon Kempton, of the Police Federation, commented; “Our members didn’t join the police to lock up these people.”
He added: “This is an initiative that I support, for a number of reasons. Primarily it gives officers information on which to base their decision-making, around whether or not to use discretion or to arrest a member of public.”
Jason Harwin, of the police council, said: “This is a real live issue, where 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.”