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Cancard – One Million UK Adults Eligible for New Medical Cannabis Card

Cancard – One Million UK Adults Eligible for New Medical Cannabis Card

From the 1st of November 2020, over one million adults within the UK will be eligible to apply for a new exemption medical cannabis card, named the Cancard. The Cancard has been created to ensure that medical cannabis patients are protected from arrest or prosecution. With the backing of both the police and government, it is a substantial development for existing and prospective medical cannabis patients in the UK. 

The Cancard will enable a more open relationship between the police and criminal justice system. The Cancard was devised and created by Carly Barton, a well-established cannabis campaigner. Many regard Carly Barton as the UK’s most prominent advocate for medical cannabis reform and ensuring that medical cannabis is accessible to everyone who could benefit from using a cannabis-based medicine.

The Cancard is backed by all ranks of police officers across the UK and a working group has been established that includes senior officers experienced in dealing with organised crime. The National Police Chiefs Council is a new scheme that highlights the inequity of the access to medical cannabis in the UK. There are estimated to be 1.4 million people in the UK who regularly use cannabis for a therapeutic effect. However, many of these people are purchasing cannabis on the black market, making them liable to prosecution. Punishing someone for using a drug to help treat the symptoms of a chronic illness does not seem fair at all. The unfair nature of the current legislation surrounding medical cannabis in the UK means that those who can afford to pay for their own prescription can access medical cannabis through private clinics at their own expense. While those who are not in such a fortunate position must resort to purchasing what they deem to be medication on the black market. 

The Cancard is a holographic photo ID card that has been developed in partnership with GPs, the Cancard is to be verified at the possessor’s GP surgery. The Cancard has been devised for people who suffer from medical conditions that private healthcare clinicians have been prescribing for since medical cannabis was legalised in November of 2018. Medical cannabis treatments are not yet available to be prescribed on the NHS other than for rare forms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and certain instances of cancer. Medical cannabis is likely to remain unavailable on the NHS until randomised clinical trials have taken place to prove the efficacy and safety of medical cannabis in treating specific symptoms or conditions.

For people who are eligible to be given a Cancard, they will have the ability to identify themselves to police as verified medical cannabis patients. The Cancard will also mean that anyone who has successfully obtained a Cancard will have access to an open source legal defence, if they end up in a predicament which means they require a legal defence.

Patients can register their interest in the Cancard now and registrations opened on the 9th of September. However, patients will not be able to officially apply for a Cancard until the 1st of November 2020.

The Cancard is the first scheme in the UK to have the backing and active support of Members of Parliament, the Police and doctors. This revolutionary card could prove to be a historic step in the decriminalisation of cannabis in the UK. It is also likely to allow many more prospective medical cannabis patients seek out a prescription to allow them to live with their condition.

In the vast majority of cases where a patient has proved that they use cannabis for a legitimate medical reason, the case is not brought to court, especially when the medical condition of the person who was in possession of cannabis suffers from a condition that can be prescribed medical cannabis by a private clinic. The stress that someone who is already ill can experience by an encounter with law enforcement can be substantial. Dealing with cases where it is simply a patient using a substance to help manage their condition, is also a huge waste of public resources.

The Cancard should provide patients who are eligible for one to be reassured that they have nothing to fear in regard to the law.

Even though medical cannabis was legalised in the UK in November 2018, there are still a very limited number of people in the UK who are being prescribed medical cannabis. There are an estimated 1.4 million people using cannabis for medical reasons in the UK. Prior to the innovation of the Cancard, the majority of these people were at risk of being charged by the police for simply treating their medical condition with a plant which gives them relief. This is a horrible situation for the patient, as they have an unfair dilemma of whether to use the substance that improves their daily life and risk arrest or to just exist in pain. The Cancard is a really positive step in ensuring that people feel comfortable using cannabis for the purpose of relieving a medical condition. Hopefully, it is a significant step in making medical cannabis available to everyone who could benefit from a medical cannabis prescription.

There are over 1 million people in the UK who are eligible for a private medical cannabis prescription across a number of different conditions. Unfortunately, due to the cost of privately obtaining a medical cannabis prescription in the UK at the moment the majority of eligible patients are not able to afford a private medical cannabis prescription. Tragically, they could face criminalisation if they are found in possession of cannabis that they purchased on the black market. This two-tiered system is completely unfair. It means that if you are in a decent financial situation you can legally acquire a medical cannabis prescription but if you are not in a position to pay several hundred pounds every month for a prescription and resort to the black market, you could then be liable for prosecution if caught in possession of marijuana or cannabis.

The Cancard provides sufferers of chronic conditions with the peace of mind that their ill health will not be the causation of them being deemed a criminal by the state. It will also make sure that the police do not waste their time trying to prosecute people simply trying to treat an issue with their health. Ultimately, over a million people will be free from the fear of being arrested for using a substance for medicinal purposes.

The stigma associated with cannabis still remains, it is certainly improving and is becoming more tolerated in western culture. The Cancard is a definitive step in removing the stigma in using cannabis to treat a condition and it does not punish patients for taking their wellbeing into their own hands and using cannabis because it works while the drugs manufactured by large pharmaceutical companies just perpetuate their problems. Unfortunately, at this time, the majority of people who would benefit from being prescribed a cannabis-based medicine cannot cover the cost of the private clinic so have no choice other than to suffer or procure cannabis through whatever way they can.

Are You Eligible to Apply for a Cancard?

The Cancard is a medical cannabis holographic card that is also a photo ID and is available for patients that meet the below criteria:

  • The patient has a confirmed diagnosis that is currently being prescribed for privately
  • The patient has used two types of prescription medication or has discussed and discounted these options based on the side effects or the possible path to dependency or addiction
  • The patient is unable to afford a private medical prescription
  • The patient needs to possess a small amount of cannabis to manage their symptoms
  • The patient may be at risk of criminalisation is caught possessing cannabis 

There a defined set of conditions that are eligible for a private medical cannabis prescription. To obtain a Cancard, you must have been diagnosed by your GP or a doctor with one of the following conditions:

Cancer – associated symptoms with a cancer diagnosis that are eligible for medical cannabis prescriptions are anxiety, chemotherapy induced nausea, depression, loss of appetite. 

Neurological Conditions – the conditions that are eligible for medical cannabis are autism, migraine, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s. 

Pain – the pain condition which are eligible are defined as chronic pain, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines. 

Gastrointestinal – Irritable bowel syndrome, irritable bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the gastrointestinal conditions that are eligible.

Psychiatric – anxiety, depression, insomnia, PTSD, ADHD and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder are all eligible conditions. 

How Does the Cancard Application Work?

The first thing to do is to sign-up here. A passport photo and a contact email for your GP must be provided within the application. The next step is to call your GP so they can confirm your diagnosis by signing a form that the Cancard team will email to your GP. You will have to provide permission over the phone to the Cancard team to allow them to contact your GP.

Assuming your application is compliant it will then be approved and your Cancard should arrive in November 2020.

How Much is a Medical Cannabis Prescription in the UK?

Currently you can only obtain a medical cannabis prescription through private clinics. Due to the lack of clinical evidence the NHS has yet to allow cannabis prescriptions. To be seen at a private cannabis clinic, you must get a referral letter from your GP. Upon obtaining a letter from your GP you can then see a specialist who has the capacity to prescribe medical cannabis.

Typically, you will have to pay for an eligibility consultation. This is an assessment to see whether you are eligible for a medical cannabis prescription. You must have tried two prescription medications for your condition that did not work, or these options were discounted due to a fear of dependency or potential side effects.  This eligibility consultation often costs between £50 and £200. The cost of the consultation is the cost of the doctor’s time and because medical cannabis prescriptions are not covered by the NHS or by medical insurance, the patient will have to front the cost of the initial eligibility consultation. 

Once you are deemed to be eligible for medical cannabis in the UK. Another consultation will be arranged to assess which medication is expected to best treat your symptoms. This is likely to cost between £150 and £200. It should hopefully result in a prescription being written for a cannabis-based medicine.

Once a script is written, the patient can obtain their medical cannabis medication. The cost of the cannabis-based medicine is at least £250 per month. So, to be able to use the cannabis medication for an extended period of time it is going to cost £250 - £500 per month. The cost varies depending on what strength medication you are prescribed.

The monthly cost of a medical cannabis prescription is substantial, and it means that very few people are able to afford the medication they need. It is creating an unfair system where affluent people can afford to pay for a medication that can dramatically improve their life while those who do not have a significant disposable income cannot afford the medicine that could improve their life. Patients often resort to getting their much needed cannabis on the black market which has legal risks which is hopefully solved by the Cancard. 

If you are interested in obtaining a medical cannabis prescription, please send us an email at info@cannacares.co.uk and we can point you in the right direction.

When Will Medical Cannabis be Available on the NHS?

For medical cannabis to be prescribed on the NHS, extensive randomised clinical trials will have to be undertaken to prove the efficacy and safety of using a specific medical cannabis formulation to treat a particular symptom or condition. A clinical trial into the efficacy of using medical cannabis for pain relief is probably the largest mandate a clinical trial could have. A successful trial that provides appropriate data and evidence that cannabis is effective in treating pain would mean that medical cannabis could be prescribed on the NHS for a broad range of conditions. 

The NHS is unlikely to undertake a large clinical trial due to the cost of the medical cannabis. This means that it falls upon private enterprise to initiate a clinical trial into the efficacy of cannabis as a pain medication. This will require substantial investment and a team will have to be put together that has the appropriate expertise to run such a historic project.

Is CBD An Effective Alternative?

CBD is one of the many cannabinoids contained within the cannabis plant. CBD has no psychoactive effects and does not get you high. CBD is known to have anti-inflammation, anti-anxiety and sleep-inducing qualities.

Before committing to obtaining a medical cannabis prescription it may be worth trying CBD oil or CBD patches first to assess whether they can provide enough relief for you not to have to resort to seeing a specialist doctor. This could save you both time and money.

Conclusion

The Cancard is a really positive step for patients who are eligible for a medical cannabis prescription. It enables people to stop living in fear of prosecution for simply using a substance that helps them deal with their condition and have a better quality of life.

Hopefully, it is another integral step to ensuring everyone who could benefit from a medical cannabis prescription is able to obtain the cannabis-based medicine that could help them deal with their condition.

7 comments

  • Would this card cover the Isle of Man?

    Kerry Vanselow
  • Is this card available in the Isle of Man ? This is a great idea.

    Brendan Clague
  • Would love a card

    Sarah gration
  • Sounds good could do with more relief from the pain. Need more information about the medication first but definitely sounds good

    Michelle heard
  • Definitely a good thing

    Neil Tomlinson

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