The ever-evolving situation revolving around legislation and guidelines for medicinal cannabis patients in the UK shows no signs of becoming less complicated, confusing or convoluted, but there is certainly at least a glimmer of hope for the future if reports in the past month are anything to go by.
According to numerous sources, a new form of medical identification will be made available to eligible patients from November 1st which will ensure that they can avoid persecution for being in possession of cannabis for medicinal. The suitably-named Cancard is planned for release following a campaign that has gathered support from patients, police and politicians across the United Kingdom and it is hoped that it will help those in need to manage their conditions with confidence.
Initially conceived and brought to fruition by the well-known cannabis campaigner Carly Barton, the card aims to cut through the nonsense at the heart of much of the UK’s archaic drug policy so that people who rely on cannabis can avoid falling victim to the ambiguous nature of the current viewpoint of the law. As it stands, most local authorities are given the right to define their own approach to dealing with low-level cannabis possession meaning that what might lead to a reasonably civil conversation with the police in one town might end in 5 years of jail time for someone who lives two towns across. As it is reported that many authorities essentially treat all cannabis users as one class of pseudo-criminal, there have been numerous reports of medicinal patients having their supply confiscated or, as in the case of Carly Barton, having your grow torn down and disposed of.
Courtesy of her own experiences, Carly Barton recognized the serious flaws in the system and wanted to bring about a dynamic sense of change. Even with the laws as they stand there is a real divide in the UK that separates the wealthiest from the poorest and this means that people who struggle to make ends meet are essentially treated as second class citizens when it comes to accessing cannabis as medicine. Even members of the police force have expressed their dismay at a system that still leaves the vast proportion of medicinal users being listed alongside (and treated like) criminals. It is hoped that the Cancard can bring some clarity to policing and enable officers to build solid relationships with the most vulnerable in society, as opposed to being seen as something to be feared.
Currently, estimates suggest that almost 1.5 million UK residents make use of illegal cannabis to provide relief from chronic illnesses and a plethora of complex conditions. Despite the fact that the medicinal use of cannabis was actually legalized in 2018, the vast majority of non-recreational consumers are still attaining their medicine through illegal channels. In fact, there has been very little in the way of significant progress in the time since the landmark decision came into force. Due to a close focus on incredibly specific conditions, many patients have found themselves left out in the dark after their initial jubilant celebrations. Furthermore, prescriptions have been ridiculously hard to come by as they are issued via private clinics who can charge an exceptionally high fee to provide the relevant documentation. Even once that hurdle is overcome, the cost of securing medicine through the official channels is estimated to be four times the cost of strains and products available on the black market.
From our understanding, these new cards will initially only be made available to people who have acquired a prescription through a private clinic, but it is not clear if the card will need to be reviewed regularly (along with an additional private clinic visit – only time will tell). Once the cards have been issued, they will enable patients to clearly identify themselves to the relevant authorities as a verified medicinal cannabis patient. Should this fail to result in fair and reasonable treatment from the police, the Cancard also comes with the promise of funded legal support to launch a defence. The simple reasoning behind this concept is that people who cannot afford to access the official supply channels should still have the assurance that possession will not lead to a criminal record, jail term or fine. Ill health should not be a crime.
Perhaps the most significant next step will be to continue to push for the right for GPs to issue prescriptions and Cancard on the NHS. By working closely with the healthcare professionals at the heart of the UK’s health, key information and studies can be shared with doctors who lack knowledge, clarity or confidence in regards to cannabis so that they can evolve with the changing times and provide the people they care for with the medicine they have come to rely on. The process for obtaining a card is reliant on communication with a professional who can confirm that the patient meets the eligibility requirements. A wide range of conditions would be classed as eligible for treatment under the scheme, as it ties in to the current UK guidelines, meaning that patients suffering from conditions including MS, epilepsy and depression, along with cancer patients, will be able to feel one step closer to the life they deserve: a life without fear.
In addition to the estimated 1.5 million people who currently are believed to be treating diagnosed conditions, an additional two million people are thought to be self-medicating for a wide range of reasons. A range of mental health issues can be calmed by cannabis, while the number of people treating issues such as PTSD with CBD or THC is also believed to be growing. In the age of information, it is much easier for people to find out about their options and speak to those in the know about ways of cultivating or procuring a safe and regular supply. The CBD revolution has also opened the eyes of people with arthritis, glaucoma and joint pain to the incredible potential for this plant to change their standard of living and it would be a reasonable assumption that a number of individuals would want a card such as this to ensure that they had all options available for them should they choose to change their route of treatment. However you look at it, this is a significant step forward that hopefully also acts as another step in the direction of an equal standing for all when it comes to accessing medicine safely and securely.
To find out more visit: cancard.co.uk
Published and Written by PSY-23 in Weed World Magazine Issue 148