The Cancard – A New Medical Cannabis Card in the UK
The Cancard is a huge development in progressing the use of Medical Cannabis in the UK. The Cancard was devised by the Cannabis campaigner Carly Barton. The idea behind the Cancard is that it would effectively decriminalise cannabis possession for all Medical Cannabis patients. The cannabis card system has been backed by police chiefs.
Even though Medical Cannabis was legalised in 2018 and the evidence supporting the use of cannabis is a medicine is advancing. There have only been about 100 patients prescribed medical cannabis on the NHS. The majority of people who have obtained a medical cannabis prescription have had to acquire the cannabis-based medicine via a private prescription at their own personal cost. There are many people who feel they need to use cannabis to help them live with such conditions as Multiple Sclerosis and epilepsy. This results in thousands if not millions of people buying cannabis illegally and therefore risking arrest or prosecution for simply buying a substance that they feel they need to treat a chronic condition.
Cannabis campaigner Carly Barton has been an advocate for medical cannabis for a number of years and was the first person to receive a medical cannabis prescription in the UK. Carly Barton uses cannabis to treat constant nerve pain that was inflicted after a stroke she has when she was 24. It was her idea to introduce Cancards to ensure that those using medical cannabis did not have to deal with any inconvenient and stressful conversations with the police. Carly Barton was also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain and tiredness. Fibromyalgia can be a very difficult illness to live with and there is no known cure. It is not yet clear what causes Fibromyalgia, making it difficult to treat.
At the moment medical cannabis is only really applicable to the vast majority of people through a private prescription. The cost of the consultations with doctors and then the cost of the medication itself results in a monthly cost of in excess of £250. This is simply unaffordable to most people and it means there is a kind of two-tiered system, where the access to medication that could truly help someone cope with their condition is only available to those who can afford it. This means that those who resort to purchasing cannabis on the black market take a legal risk to treat their condition that more affluent people do not have to take.
Almost 2 years since Medical Cannabis was legalised in the UK, Cancard is a solution that works in collaboration with the police to ensure that cannabis possession for medical cannabis is decriminalised and prevents the patient worrying about any potential legal consequences of using the medicine.
The Cancard system is set to be trialled in November 2020. The Cancard system has been backed by the Police Federation of England and Wales and the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC).
There are many drug policy campaigners that are calling for low level cannabis possession to be decriminalised, especially for those who are using cannabis for medical means. While the NPCC have stated that they will not allow the Cancard system to be abused by recreational users and dealers, meaning it does not give a person the right to be carrying illicit drugs or an excessive amount of cannabis.
The Cancard is a positive step in ensuring that Medical Cannabis becomes more accessible to those who could benefit from a prescription. It is crucial that all patients using medical cannabis feel comfortable doing so and do not feel at risk of having to deal with any legal consequences, even if it is just an uncomfortable conversation with police, this can be very stressful.
More research and data are needed to elevate medical cannabis to be prescribed on the NHS. This is imperative if attitudes within the medical community are going to change and accept medical cannabis as a viable treatment for chronic pain, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. Enabling patients to be comfortable with using the medication is crucial in expanding the use of medical cannabis which will lead to a larger dataset to illustrate the positive effect it can have.
Clinical trials will have to be undertaken to obtain the data that will provide the evidence that medical cannabis is effective in treating the certain condition that the trial investigates. Participants in such a trial will need to feel comfortable about possessing cannabis and having it at their home. The Cancard provides some security to these worries. Having a Cancard provided to all of the participants in a clinical trial will mean that everyone taking part is comfortable with using the medication and not be concerned about being reprimanded in any way.