The British Police Force is backing a new initiative that will give millions of people with health conditions a card, marking them as a “registered medical cannabis patient”.
Roughly three and a half million British citizens with cancer, multiple sclerosis, depression and arthritis will soon be eligible for a ‘CanCard’, as the British government launches the CanCard initiative this November.
The initiative is designed to reduce the number of patients arrested for cannabis possession. Although the British Police warn the card is not a get-out-of-jail-free card, it will allow police a justification for not arresting people caught with illegal cannabis. Anyone caught possessing the drug currently faces five years in prison, a fine, or both.
Over a million British people currently self-medicate with black market cannabis, including 90,000 cancer patients and 230,000 arthritis patients.
While medical cannabis has been legal in Britain since 2018, less than 100 prescriptions have been filled in two years. To obtain a prescription, patients must pay £1,000 for a private consultation and apply for an NHS prescription. As you can imagine, applications aren’t widely successful.
The CanCard is being developed by several medical cannabis companies, with the backing of a group of cross-party MP’s. It was the idea of Carly Barton, a 33-year-old university lecturer. Barton suffered a stroke at 24, leaving her with nerve damage. She was arrested after ditching opiates for cannabis, as she could not afford the medical cannabis application.
Barton isn’t the only victim. Mother Kayleigh Ross was also arrested after growing cannabis to treat her nerve disorder. Ross told the Times:
The new cannabis card is a good step in the right direction. Not everyone can afford a prescription but they shouldn’t be criminalised for wanting to feel well.
Britain’s medical establishment is currently reluctant to prescribe medical cannabis, as there is little clinical evidence supporting the drug. However, this presents a catch 22, as criminalising cannabis makes it difficult for clinical trials to gain approval.
Only one medical cannabis company, GW Pharmaceuticals, currently has permission to sell cannabis. Its drugs include Sativex for Multiple Sclerosis patients and Epidiolex for Childhood Epilepsy patients. There are no approved medications for other conditions.
However, there is hope for bud in Britain. Clinical study Project Twenty21 began earlier this year and is expecting to collect clinical data on 20,000 people in Australia, Europe and Britain. You can read that story here.