Home delivery cannabis card protects medicinal users’ rights

The UK’s first direct-to-your-door medical cannabis clinic has opened with patients being given a card to prove they are using the drug legally. The Releaf e-clinic enables patients to see a registered doctor online who can prescribe medical cannabis from a UK pharmacy sent directly to their home.

The clinic also provides a Home Office backed photo ID card so patients can prove to police or law enforcement officers that they are using the drug for legal, medicinal reasons.

The card, the first of its kind in the UK, provides access to a patient’s prescription detailing what is prescribed, dosage, the condition, the company that provided the prescription and the doctor who issued it.

At the moment only senior doctors or those on a specialist register can prescribe cannabis and there are only a small number of NHS patients that are eligible for it.

In 2018 government drug watchdog the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence decided the cost of the drug outweighed its potential benefits for many patients. It recommended the NHS-funded cannabis treatment only for children and adults with rare, severe forms of epilepsy, adults with vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy and people with stiffness and spasms due to multiple sclerosis.

Private doctors can prescribe medical cannabis for a much wider range of medical needs including anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s, cancer, Crohn’s disease, HIV and Aids, and long-term pain.

Cannabis is a Class B drug in the UK and users without a medical prescription could face up to five years in prison.

Dr Stephen D’Souza, clinical director of Releaf, said: “This card will ultimately provide those who really need medical cannabis the confidence and freedom to take their prescribed medication when they feel the need to, free of stigma.”

It is estimated there are around 100,000 active medical cannabis users and this is predicted to rise to 334,000 by 2024.

Greg de Hoet, a 35-year-old medicinal cannabis patient who has Crohn’s disease, said: “This will really help to reduce the stigma and hopefully will empower others whose quality of life could be really improved by taking medical cannabis to speak to their doctor about it.”

Joint effort to ease habits of the over 60s

The number of over 60s undergoing treatment for cannabis addiction has more than doubled in the past seven years, writes Matthew Davis.

Public Health England figures show that a record number of people aged 60 or above are now in NHS treatment programmes trying to wean them off cannabis.

It means there are almost 1,100 of these elderly cannabis addicts seeking help to kick their drug problem. Many of these may have been taking the drug for years but it is only now that they have sought help to for their addiction.

Experts say modern versions of cannabis are more dangerous as growers and dealers have increased the strength of the product. Regular use can lead to anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards spoke in 2015 about being unable to kick his weed habit despite jettisoning a number of his other vices.

He admitted: “I smoke regularly, an early morning joint. Strictly Californian.” Richards had previously quit heroin in 1978 after his fifth arrest and stopped taking cocaine in 2006 after falling from a tree in Fiji.

Nuno Albuquerque, head of treatment for the UK Addiction Treatment Group, said: “A lot of our senior clients have decades of drug use under their belt, but may have never seen their cannabis use as a problem.”


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