BlogHow should you carry your medical cannabis prescription?

How should you carry your medical cannabis prescription?

7 min read

Editorial Team

How should you carry your medical cannabis prescription?
Medicinal cannabis is available for prescription in the UK through private clinics, but there are stringent rules around what constitutes legally carrying cannabis on you. In this article, I will explain the law on possessing prescription medicines and examine some problems patients have encountered when presenting their prescriptions to a police officer. 

Contents

A medical cannabis prescription is not a licence for you to carry THC. It is a licence for you to possess the cannabis flowers or cannabis-based medicinal product you have been prescribed in the quantities you were prescribed.

Cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) have been a prescribable medicine in the UK since 2018. The only cannabis a patient can possess is cannabis produced under medically regulated conditions in licenced premises, dispensed by a licenced pharmacist and prescribed by a specialist doctor.

Cannabis-based medicinal products come in the form of cannabis flowers, oil tinctures, vaporiser pens, capsules, and patches, to name a few. 

The law for carrying a prescription medication

When carrying medicine you have been prescribed; it must be kept in the original container or packaging with the prescription label saying who it was prescribed to, by whom and where it was dispensed and on what date.  

You must carry a copy of your ID to prove that you are the rightful owner of the medicine. 

If you do not keep the medicine in the original container, or the label has become unreadable, you are required to carry a paper copy of the prescription. 

Prescriptions for medicines are valid for 28 days. This time limit requires you to renew your prescription monthly if you require ongoing treatment.

Prescription papers act as a licence to carry controlled substances and as an instruction for a pharmacist to dispense what a doctor has prescribed. The paperwork is also a record of the medicine you have been prescribed. 

How you should carry your medical cannabis

The same rules apply to all prescribed medicines to medical cannabis prescriptions. Police are trained on the law for prescription possession and how you should carry any medication. Prescription cannabis is no different from any other medication. 

However, when Dame Sally Davis provided the rules for medicinal cannabis prescribing in 2018, she stated that patients must carry their cannabis in the original container, carry a paper copy of the prescription and a signed letter from a doctor. 

The label on your medicine packaging should be enough to satisfy the police's requirements, and a copy of your ID should accompany this. If you have a paper copy of your prescription, it is advisable to have this on you whenever you carry your medicine.

In a written question to the Department of Health in the House of Commons, MP Daisy Cooper asked: "What assessment has he made of the potential merits of using secure digital ID systems to enable more people who are eligible for a medical cannabis prescription to access one."

Maria Caulfield, the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Social Care, replied, "There are sufficient means for an individual who is lawfully in possession of medicinal cannabis to demonstrate legitimate medical use. This includes proof of a prescription and identification or presenting the dispensing label attached to the medicine."

Legal protection requires following the rules

Carrying cannabis prescribed to you outside of the 28 days could result in you having your cannabis seized by a police officer in the event of a search. 

If you have a prescription container that is over 28 days old and has a worn label, you will run the risk of having your prescription taken off of you. If the police cannot read the prescription label, they will assume it is outdated and expired. 

You will be asked to produce a paper copy of the prescription dated within 28 days. You may receive a caution if you cannot provide a valid prescription.

Police drugs experts have advised Releaf patients not to carry their entire prescription. Patients should put only the cannabis they need with them for the day/trip in another container and must always have a paper copy of their prescription to hand. The equivalent is putting your tablets in a 7-day container - if you don't have the paper prescription when the medication is out of the original and labelled packaging, the police have the authority to seize the medication. 

Paying for a prescription every 3, 6 or 12 months and refilling the container with unregulated cannabis will not pass the police test. If you have been doing this so far, you have been lucky to have walked away with your cannabis. Patients have reported online that they have had cannabis seized when using an old container and wondered why. 

The government does not want patients to be taking unregulated medication of any kind. Just in the same way that the police want to prevent people from taking unregulated benzodiazepine products because people do not know what is in them or in what quantities, the same is true for cannabis. Drug laws control the safety and purity of substances; if there is no control over the production of the drug, how can assurances be offered? They can't. 

How does Releaf help patients stay legal with their prescription service?

Patients can find the private prescription process confusing, complicated and overly bureaucratic. Releaf has taken much of the heavy lifting away from acquiring a prescription for CBMPs. 

Releaf makes repeat prescriptions a seamless monthly process by automating the service. Patients can use their NHS logins to see if they qualify for an appointment. Once an appointment has been made and a doctor prescribes a CBMP, patients are automatically set up on repeat prescriptions. They can manage the strains and quantities of each strain they are prescribed and click "cancel subscription" if they wish to end the service. 

The benefit of Releaf’s service is that it is designed to keep patients legally prescribed without any gaps in their legal protection or being left without medication due to missing an email invoice or simply forgetting to order a new prescription from their clinic. 

Releaf also offers a proof-of-prescription medical cannabis patient card. This is not a legal requirement, but police officers have found it helpful during stop-and-search encounters because it shows the patient's ID and has a QR code allowing the officer to access a copy of their medical cannabis prescription history. If your subscription has ended, your card will show that you are no longer a registered patient. The police access page gives a phone number they can call to confirm any details should they require more information.

Do I need a Cancard if I have a prescription?

You are not legally required to own or present a Cancard if you have a legal prescription for a cannabis-based medicinal product. A Cancard may show that you are legally entitled to a cannabis prescription but it does not prove that you hold a current valid prescription for medical cannabis and it may not be accepted by all police forces. 

Accessing medical cannabis can be challenging due to the stigma surrounding it. However, Releaf makes it simple with our tailored monthly packages, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection, all based on your cannabis prescription

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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Authors

Editorial Team

Article written by the Releaf Editorial Team, a group of seasoned experts in cannabis healthcare, dedicated to enhancing awareness and accessibility in the field through their wealth of knowledge and experience.

fact checked

Compliance Director

Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

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