Cannabis Cards Set to Revolutionise the World of Medical Cannabis

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Cancard: Cannabis Cards Set to Revolutionise the World of Medical Cannabis

Cannabis Cards Set to Revolutionise the World of Medical Cannabis


The use of medicinal cannabis in the United Kingdom has been restricted since 1928, and it is currently scheduled as a Class B drug. As the recreational use of cannabis is illegal, this leaves patients without a prescription vulnerable to criminalization. Although the medical use of cannabis was legalized in 2018, the law stipulates that it must be prescribed by (an expensive) registered specialist, costing around £2000 just to register with them. Prior to Cancards general practitioners are not allowed to prescribe cannabis, or even medications that have been derived from the powerful plant.

These include Sativex, which is used by patients with MS-related muscle spasticity; Nabilone, which is used by chemotherapy patients; and Eidiolex, which is used for epilepsy sufferers. All other cannabis-based medication fly beneath the legal radar. To make matters more complex, when the law took effect it was announced that medicinal cannabis would only be available to patients with “an exceptional clinical need.” As a result, of the estimated 3.1 million patients who use cannabis for medical purposes, less than one percent have an official prescription.

However, although the legalisation of medical cannabis followed massive public pressure, the policy was not unfounded. While the effects of CBD are still in the early stages of scientific discovery, the soothing benefits of cannabis have already been well documented. From pain relief, to gastrointestinal and neurological conditions, the use of medical cannabis spans a wide range of illnesses and injuries. This leaves a gap of approximately three million seriously ill patients who are unable to afford, or access, private prescriptions.

Cannabis Prescriptions are Rare, Leaving Millions at Risk of Imprisonment

In light of the fact that NHS policies are so tight, this forces a growing number of people to seek medical relief through illicit sources. According to the annual crime survey of England and Wales, approximately one third of the population aged between 16 and 64 have used cannabis at least once. This means that at least ten million people in the United Kingdom, have experimented with cannabis. Of these, there is no telling as to how many are using it for medical purposes. However, given the sheer number of conditions that cannabis is known to relieve, it is likely to be at least 40 percent.

Thirty-three year old Carly Barton, is the mastermind behind the Cancard scheme. After suffering nerve damage from a stroke at the age of 24, she was initially prescribed opiates for chronic pain. However she found that the prescription drugs left her feeling sedated, and with no other option, she turned to cannabis for relief. As a result she experienced significant pain-relief, which allowed her to live a more productive life. Unfortunately, Carly was unable to afford a private cannabis prescription, and so she chose to grow her own plants. She was ultimately raided by the police who then confiscated her cannabis.

Cannabis Cards Protect Patients from Prosecution

The entire United Kingdom police force is on board with the new Cancard, set to be released on 1 November 2020. Registered cannabis patients will qualify for a Cancard, which is designed to protect medical users from criminalization. This means that police will no longer arrest innocent patients, as long as they are in possession of a Cancard. The introduction of the card essentially grants patients immunity from legal penalties, and is supported by the UK government. Most importantly, Cancards are allowed to be endorsed by specialists and GPs alike. To qualify for the exemption, patients must initially have a diagnosis with a private prescription. To get this prescription, patients must have already tried at least two different types of prescription medication that does not contain cannabis. Alternatively, patients with dependency or side effect concerns may sidestep this protocol, and skip straight to the coveted prescription. Lastly, patients who cannot afford a private prescription are eligible for a Cancard - in order to manage medical symptoms. This allows patients suffering from an array of conditions to possess small amounts of cannabis with peace of mind. Essentially the card proves that patients legally qualify for a cannabis prescription, thereby surpassing contraventions of the Drugs Act, due to the reasons listed above. This is a milestone in the history of medical cannabis, meaning that possession cases aren’t likely to make it to court. However, in the unlikely event that a patient is charged with legal action, the card is equipped with resources that assist holders in the process. This includes a guide to stop and search procedures; information for solicitors; an outline of defence framework; and a tool designed to report unruly police.

The United Kingdom Police Force is Backing the Cancard Initiative

Prior to the release of the Cancard, if a person is caught in possession of cannabis (without a prescription) they could face a five year prison sentence or a hefty fine. If the dealer is traced, they would face up to fourteen years in prison – a steep price to pay for supplying medical-grade cannabis. However, the police are not always to blame. Simon Kempton, national board member of the Police Federation of England and Wales (and a serving Dorset police officer) explains: “I did not join the police to arrest people who are simply unwell and trying to manage their symptoms or pain. In fact, I joined to help people in that position.” “Initiatives such as Cancard are important because they give police officers vital information which they can use when they have to make decisions on the street.” Deputy Chief Constable (and National Police Chiefs Council Lead for Drugs) Jason Harwin, expands on this in the following statement: “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. The card isn't a get out of jail free card... it does not give holders the right to carry illicit drugs. It's a flag to us that the person should be accessing medication.”

The Ultimate Green Light: How to Register for a Cancard

Applications for the new Cancard are set to open this year on 1 November. However, it is possible to register in advance and join the waiting list, so as to be emailed on the date applications open. This ensures that eligible patients can beat the rush, in order to be among the first of UK citizens to receive the holographic ID Cancard. According to the official Cancard website, all patients with a medicinal cannabis prescription are eligible to apply for a Cannabis Card. The conditions listed below have been approved by government, and are growing daily based on emerging research. If you are eligible for a Cancard, the first step is to call your GP who will confirm your medical condition for the card. After this, you can submit your application by attaching an identity photograph and your doctor’s email address. Your doctor will then be sent a form with the purpose of confirming a medical diagnosis that meets the legal requirements for a cannabis prescription. This is then emailed to the Cancard team for review, and (if approved) the card is granted to the patient. Unfortunately, if a health concern is not currently on the list, you will not be able to qualify for a Cancard. In this case, it is best to keep checking back for updates, until the condition has been cleared by the authorities. The Cancard team has stated that they are “keeping a close eye on what conditions are being prescribed for and will be adding them as they come up.” So the future of medical cannabis is looking brighter with every minute that passes. Here are the current conditions eligible for private prescriptions and holographic Cancards:

• Chronic pain
• Fibromyalgia
• Migraines 
• Cluster headaches 
• Arthritis / Rheumatoid Arthritis
• Neuropathic pain
• Palliative care
• Chemotherapy induced nausea
• Cancer related appetite loss  
• Crohn’s disease
• Ulcerative Colitis
• Inflammatory Bowel Disease
• Irritable Bowl Syndrome
• Autistic spectrum disorder
• Epilepsy
• Multiple sclerosis
• Parkinson’s disease 
• Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
• Autism Spectrum Disorder
• Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
• Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
• Agoraphobia
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Insomnia

Final Thoughts

Cancard is in partnership with the Primary Care Cannabis Network, which according to their website is “The only organisation to exist in the UK specifically for GPs who are interested in learning about cannabis based medical treatments and how these may serve the needs of patients.” The PCC Network is of the opinion that general practitioners are set to play a key role in the prescription of medical cannabis. The organization is working hand in hand with Cancard to distribute cannabis related research to every doctor in the UK. This initiative is designed to transform the world of modern medicine, and open the minds of doctors who may initially be reluctant to offer prescriptions for Cancards. With the police, the medical force, and the government on board, Cancards are set to become the futuristic solution some of us have been waiting for. There is no reason for patients to serve jail-time for “crimes” they did not commit, and Cancards offer relief to those who need it the most. With the legal system taking the pressure off severely ill patients, we can catch a breath of fresh air in a world that is often unjust.

Herbaleyes urges anyone who's condition is on the list, who has tried 2 failed prescription medications and who regularly uses cannabis medicinally to apply.
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