Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion within the medical cannabis community about medical cannabis ID cards. These are already common in places which have legalised the use of medical cannabis, such as Canada and many US states, as a simple form of identification for any patients who require the use of cannabis-based medications. Since medical cannabis prescribed by a licensed doctor has been legal in the UK since 2018, several companies are looking at starting similar ID schemes.
MedCannID is a “medical cannabis patient registration system that offers simple and effective security and protection for medical cannabis patients“. Essentially, the idea behind the MedCannID scheme is that you can show it to members of law enforcement if you are stopped and searched to avoid being charged with illegal possession of cannabis.
MedCannID is medically-focused in nature and serves as physical confirmation that your medication is legal. Its registry means that verification is quick and simple, which is important in the event of medical emergencies. This will also reduce stigma around the use of medical cannabis.
The main issue with this scheme is, of course, that it only serves patients with existing prescriptions. While this is a disadvantage to those using black-market products, we should note that destigmatisation is not something that happens overnight – MedCannID’s approach of establishing a trusted registry is only the first step towards normalisation of medical cannabis treatments.
Cancard, in its own words, “prove(s) that you are legally entitled to a cannabis prescription and are only in contravention of the Drugs Act because you are unable to afford one“. To note, the Drugs Act states that anyone caught growing, distributing or possessing cannabis without proper medical documentation can be charged with a criminal act.
Cancard offers the same benefits of MedCannID to patients but only for those that do not have a legal medical cannabis prescription.
The Cancard scheme is loosely endorsed by some police forces and GPs, and was developed in collaboration with doctors who have seen a need to serve patients who are in the market for medical cannabis but cannot get it because of cost or accessibility reasons. One of the most positive aspects of Cancard, as we see it, is that they’re aiming to build a supportive community of patients, doctors and law enforcers through education.
It is important to note that Cancard is not a ‘get out of jail free’ solution; it does not automatically entitle you to exemption if you are stopped by the police, who are under no obligation to let you go if you show this ID card. While Cancard shows that you intend to use your product for medical purposes, whether or not this is taken into account is entirely up to the discretion of individual officers.
Furthermore, the card does not change your legal status or rights; neither does it protect you if you cannot prove that the cannabis you possess is only for medical usage.
As leading professionals in the medical cannabis industry, we can see the benefits for both of these ID cards for very different reasons. And while it’s tempting to back Cancard, which promises to serve all patients and not just those with legal prescriptions, it is, perhaps, better to start with those who already use it legally.
Whether you back these schemes comes down to weighing the positives against the negatives, personal patient circumstances, and understanding the real-life applications of medical cannabis ID cards.
If you would like to become a legal medical cannabis patient, you can sign up with The Medical Cannabis Clinics