A cannabis card scheme which allows people who use the drug medicinally to avoid arrest is now being used by more than 17,380 people across the UK.

The Cancard, which has been backed by police chiefs, allows patients who are eligible for a medical cannabis prescription to identify themselves to police officers who may otherwise arrest them.

With access to legal medical cannabis still largely unavailable on the NHS – yet accessible through expensive private healthcare providers – people in need of medicinal cannabis who cannot afford prescriptions are buying it illegally.

After the UK legalised potentially life-saving medical cannabis in 2018, resistance from the medical establishment stymied availability through the health service. This left some police officers in the unenviable position of feeling like they may have to punish patients for using unlicensed cannabis without a prescription as they could not easily ascertain whether they were using it for health reasons.

Carly Barton Cancard Creator

Cancard, founded by medical cannabis campaigner and patient Carly Barton, aimed to help redress this situation. Initial figures from the scheme, launched three months ago, showed that for 94 percent of people stopped with the card, it resulted in no further action or just confiscation of medication. People can only get the card following a medical consultation with a healthcare professional.

“I was approached by an officer who asked me what I was vaping,” said one Cancard user with MS. “I was very anxious but I explained everything and showed him my card. He said he knew about the card but hadn’t seen one yet and he liked the style of it. He wished me well and said I shouldn’t be so anxious and the police were there to help.”

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