The UK’s stance on cannabis is nothing short of stagnant and has been for what seems like an eternity. Whilst other corners of the globe – such as America, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands – are opening up their arms to the wonders of weed, the UK sits idle, turning up their noses at marijuana. But is the UK’s stance starting to change? What if there was a card? A card that gave access to medicinal marijuana for those who needed its benefits the most. A card that gave people the right to medicinal cannabis. A…Cancard. Not only is this an excellent name for a cannabis allowance card, but it’s also completely true, and exists.
As of the 1st November 2020, the Cancard has been eligible for application in the UK. In this article, we’re going to be delving deep into what this card does, how it came about and what the application process involves. Strap yourselves in. Let’s go!
The History of the Cancard
The Cancard launched by cannabis activist, Carly Barton. The UK’s laws on marijuana have been very stagnant up until the last few years. A question people often want to know is: Is weed legal in the UK? The truth is that recreationally it’s not. But medicinally, it is… sort of. Let’s look into it.
The 2018 Billy Caldwell case was a huge landmark moment in the steps towards medicinal marijuana in the UK. Billy Caldwell was a young boy with epilepsy, and his parents found the best treatment for his suffering was cannabis oil. Charlotte Caldwell, Billy’s mother, says this is what kept him alive. Because his family was unable to purchase this in England, they had to travel to the US and Canada in order to get it. However, upon return, the cannabis oil was seized, and Billy was subsequently left fighting for his life without the medication he needed. After a huge uproar from the public, Billy became the first UK patient to be treated by the NHS using medicinal marijuana.
However, this did not completely solve the issue. Whilst medicinal marijuana has become legalised in the UK, it is still very expensive and, pretty much only available on private prescription (at time of writing). Some prescriptions cost as much £50,000 per year. Essentially, for those who can afford it, it’s easy sailing. But for those who can’t, the dark web or local dealers is the best option, and that, of course, brings legal issues.
But now comes something else. Something different. As the fellow weed-smoker, William Shakespeare, would say: Enter Cancard, stage right.
What is the Cancard
Within the UK, there are 1.4 million people who use weed medicinally. However, as mentioned earlier, very few people have been receiving medical prescriptions due to the excessive cost. Furthermore, these people are at risk of being punished by the law. Within the UK, if found in possession, you can get up to 5 years in prison, and be given a blank cheque fine. Very harsh.
But now comes the Cancard. It’s devised by Carly Barton, the co-founder of Plant-Ed Collective and an advocate for medicinal marijuana legalisation. Carly herself suffers from chronic pain and seizures, and had to get her medicinal marijuana from the dark web as she couldn’t afford prescriptions. Her main aim of the Cancard is to ensure medicinal marijuana consumers, without private prescriptions, aren’t faced with unfair persecutions.
Carly Barton, the Cancard creator, has this to say:
“We all know that cases, where patients have proved legitimate medicinal use, are unlikely to make it to court, and if they do, these cases are consistently dropped. This is especially the case when a patient presents with a condition that is being privately prescribed for. There is currently no way of identifying these people before emotional distress has been caused and public resources have been wasted”
You might be wondering what this crazy thing looks like. Well, the Cancard is a holographic card and also acts as a means of identification. It looks sort of like the bus discount card you had when you were 13, except instead of cheap bus tickets, you get medicinal marijuana. The Cancard allows for police to identify who is using marijuana for medicinal purposes straight away, and avoids any incorrect fines or sentences. It’s been a long time coming. But, how would one get their hands on a Cancard?
Who’s Eligible for the Cancard?
Although medicinal marijuana was legalised in 2018, it’s been a slow process for the NHS to accept it as medicine. This is because of their doubts and lack of research into using cannabis for medicinal purposes. Therefore, the Cancard is acting as a sort of placeholder for those who are unable to afford the expensive, private prescriptions. It fills a huge hole in the UK’s approach to medicinal marijuana.
The requirements to receive the Cancard are simple and clear. The person must match the following criteria:
- The individual does not have the financial capabilities to pay for a continued private medical prescription.
- The individual requires a dose of marijuana to keep their symptoms at bay.
- The individual could be at potential risk of fines or sentencing if caught with their marijuana.
- The individual has been diagnosed by a doctor, and is being prescribed for their diagnosis privately.
- The individual has used two varying prescribed medications or has discussed the two options and decided against them due to the side effects, or the potential for addiction.
Which Health Conditions are eligible for the Cancard?
In order to apply for the Cancard, you may be suffering from one of these conditions, although if your condition is not listed you can contact them, and they are committed to adding more as appropriate.
- Cancer Symptoms – An individual is eligible for the Cancard if they suffer from cancer symptoms such as: anxiety, loss of appetite, chemotherapy-induced nausea, depression.
- Brain Conditions – An individual is eligible for the Cancard if they suffer from autism, migraine, neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis.
- Mental Health Issues – An individual is eligible for the Cancard if they suffer from anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, ADHD, OCD, depression.
- Gastrointestinal – An individual is eligible for the Cancard if they suffer from IBS, IBD, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease.
- Pain – An individual is eligible for the Cancard if they suffer from arthritis, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia.
Ways of Using Medicinal Marijuana in the UK
Let’s say, hypothetically, you’re eligible for the Cancard. You’ve applied for it. And knock knock at the door and you’ve just received it. All the steps complete. Now you can feel safe and secure in using your medicinal cannabis without criminalisation. However, it should be noted that where medical cannabis is concerend in the UK, smoking is nor a recognised consumption method, and so vaporisers are recommended.
It may also be the case that perhaps you would rather not smoke cannabis, due to the harsh effects it has on the throat, and additional toxins it produces when combusted. In that case, you may want to consider alternative ways of consuming cannabis.
Dry herb vaporisers are becoming more popular alternatives to smoking. A dry herb vaporizer is a healthier way of inhaling weed. Rather than using the process of combustion by igniting a cigarette/spliff, causing the paper and the weed to burn, dry herb vaporisers work more like an oven – heating the weed up (not burning it) and creating vapour which can then be inhaled. This process only reaches levels of around 200 degrees, making vapour a lot less harmful to the body.
Dry herb vaporisers are easy to use, easily portable, healthier, and avoid the usual smell after smoking. There are a huge range of these crazy devices because the dry herb vaporiser comes in many shapes and sizes. Some look smooth and slick, whilst others look a bit like Doctor Who’s Sonic Screwdriver. A vaporiser is always an option for those who’d prefer not to smoke their medicinal marijuana, particularly if you’ve been granted a Cancard for symptoms caused by carcinogens.
How Do You Apply for the Cancard?
Applying for the Cancard is very easy, quick and straightforward. All you need to do is follow these 3 stages.
Stage 1 – Go on to the Cancard website and register. You’ll need a photo of yourself, your NHS number, ID and a contact email of your GP.
Stage 2 – You’ll need your GP to confirm your diagnosis to prove you are eligible.
Stage 3 – If all is done correctly and you are eligible, then all you have to do is wait for your card to arrive.
How Much Does The Can card Cost?
The Cancard costs £20 a year. However, this is open to negotiation if an individual cannot afford it. The Cancard team wants the card to be as accessible as possible.
The Cancard Is A Step In the Right Direction
Whilst prescriptions for medicinal marijuana remain expensive and hard to get, the Cancard will ensure people aren’t unfairly criminalised for simply taking their medication. Molly Meacher, House of Lords, said: ‘More than a million patients will at last be free from the fear of arrest for taking their cannabis medicine to relieve their pain or suffering, thanks to the Cancard.”
Ultimately, growing medical recognition is a huge step in the right direction regarding the UK’s stance on cannabis. We hope to see full recognition, access on the NHS and UK cannabis legalisation soon!