BlogSocial etiquette: Staying safe with medical cannabis 

Social etiquette: Staying safe with medical cannabis 

11 min read

Editorial Team

Social etiquette: Staying safe with medical cannabis 
As societal perceptions evolve and legal frameworks adapt, it's essential for patients to stay informed about their rights and responsibilities. This guide aims to shed light on the nuances of public consumption, interaction with law enforcement, and maintaining discretion and respect in various settings. With a focus on education and awareness, we explore practical advice for those legally prescribed cannabis for medicinal purposes.


Public consumption laws: knowing the rules

Medicinal cannabis prescriptions are still relatively new in the UK. The public's understanding of patient requirements is increasing, and there is a lot of compassion across the UK. Patients can legally vape prescription cannabis outside in public without fear of legal punishments. However, there may be some instances where members of the public are not up to date with the law. Conversations around prescriptions are a good way to politely educate those unaware. 

Releaf has recognised that up until now, some patients have had negative interactions with the police and their medicinal cannabis prescription. This is the last thing we want to see. To try and prevent this from continuing, we have taken responsibility for educating the police about patients' right to carry medical cannabis prescriptions. We hope that this improves the relations between police and patients. 

In partnership with The Sanskara Platform and the CIC, Releaf is working to increase private sector and public awareness of prescription cannabis in the areas that will most improve patients' living and working experience regarding medicating. 

Here is more friendly advice to stay safe with your legal medicinal cannabis prescription. 

Discreet and responsible cannabis use in public

Medicating in public is legal, but it is also respectable to consider other people around you. If you are in an enclosed or crowded space and feel you must medicate to relieve your symptoms, try to do so discreetly. Asking if others take any issue would be polite, as it is impossible to ignore that medicinal cannabis vapour is not everyone's favourite smell. Moving to a more appropriate location is advisable - you don't have to hide, but if you can keep everyone happy, it should be a consideration. 

It should go without saying that purposefully exhaling your medicinal cannabis vapour towards someone else, including the police, is not advisable. Just because it is legal doesn't give you the right to push it in others' faces - it's already legal and the police are there to protect law abiding citizens, of which you are one. There has been such a big campaign to remove the stigma surrounding medicinal cannabis it would be a shame to contribute anything that damages that much-needed progress. You must not feel any shame taking your prescription cannabis in public.

Private businesses may have rules for vaporising prescription cannabis whilst on their premises. If you are unsure about the policy for a particular establishment, you are best placed to phone or email them for clarification to avoid issues upon arrival. Premises or venues may have a designated area for patients to medicate away from the public. 

Interacting with law enforcement: rights and best practices

If the police stop you and ask to explain why you have cannabis in your possession, you should remain calm and present them with a copy of your legal prescription and ID. You have the right to carry your medicine with you at all times and you must carry the correct paperwork. Releaf subscribed patients can offer the police officer their Releaf Medical Cannabis Card, which shows a QR code. Once scanned, you must approve police access via an email sent by Releaf. When the police have access, it reveals a copy of the prescription, a history of previous prescriptions, and information to prove your ID. Once you have shown your legal status, the police should have no reason to confiscate your prescription.

Properly Packaging and Labelling Your Cannabis for Travel

When travelling in the UK, police advise patients to not carry more cannabis than necessary for that trip. Put only the amount of cannabis you need for that trip into a non-original container. Patients must also have a copy of their prescription, which is available digitally on your Releaf Medical Cannabis Card if you subscribe to our service. If you do not have a Releaf Medical Cannabis Card, you must also carry a copy of your ID. 

When travelling out of the UK with prescription cannabis, patients must ensure that they have their cannabis in the original container with the prescription label visible on it. You may wish to consider moving cannabis you will not need from that container for the trip into another container to leave at home. The legal requirement is for patients to carry a copy of their signed prescription when possessing their medicinal cannabis and ID, but you should have that with you if you are in an airport. You do not need to declare your medicinal cannabis to security, just have all the documents together and be prepared to answer any questions. Having it easily accessible in a clear bag will make interactions with airport security much smoother. 

You may wish to contact the embassy of the country (or state) you are visiting to become familiar with the local laws and regulations..

Navigating Public Transportation with Cannabis

You can carry your prescription cannabis wherever you travel in the UK, including public transport like trains, buses, trams, taxis and planes. During times of high alert and potential threat to the public, there may be police with sniffer dogs at public transport stations. As you will be carrying all the required documents you will not have an issue after presenting them. 

Some train services like Southern Rail will permit you to vaporise your medicinal cannabis during travel if required. It is best to check with the service provider before assuming that you can prevent any negative interactions.

If you travel with cannabis in a non-original container, please consider an airtight, smell-proof option. Sealed containers preserve your medicinal cannabis much longer and also prevent the smell from being exposed to everyone else. Whilst there is nothing wrong with using medicinal cannabis, there is still some way to go until the legal change is completely normalised. 

Attending Festivals, Events and Gatherings: Enjoying Cannabis Responsibly

Your prescription cannabis must remain safe at an event or gathering. If you are in a place where children are present, it is a sensible idea to make sure it is out of their potential reach. 

Remember that your medicinal cannabis prescription is for you and no one else. You cannot share your prescription cannabis with others, even if they also have a prescription. 

Always be mindful of other people who may not enjoy the smell of cannabis. Moving to an appropriate location may be an option if anyone opposes you vaporising in their breathing space. If you cannot, reassure them that the smell will dissipate quickly if outdoors and not stain furniture or the walls indoors. Always be respectful to the premises owner. 

If you are attending a festival or event outdoors, security may approach you for taking your medicinal cannabis. Remain calm and present your prescription as you would a police officer. The situation should quickly resolve when they see you have legal medicinal cannabis. 

Managing Odour: Tips for Discreetly Carrying Cannabis

To avoid drawing attention to yourself when carrying your medicinal cannabis, store your prescription packaging and vaporiser in a smell-proof case. Carbon-lined bags offer great protection by absorbing the smell and using tight seals.

Empty the spent material after using your vaporiser to reduce the smell before putting it back in the case. A case will also prevent your vaporiser unit from being damaged when it is not in use. 

If you live in a shared house where the smell may be an issue for other residents, consider using an exhalation filter to reduce the smell released into the immediate indoor environment. These devices use carbon filters to capture the smell molecules as you breathe through them. You could also opt for an air purification system with a carbon filter that cleans the room's air. Exhale next to a window or have a window open to help prevent the smell from entering other parts of the house or building.

When selecting a smaller container to carry small amounts of your prescription cannabis with you, select a smell-proof option to help preserve the quality of your cannabis and prevent the smell from escaping. 

Staying Charged: Your Vaporiser's Battery Life

You must take your medicinal cannabis flower with a vaporiser. It is important to make sure you have a charge at all times. You may like to carry a USB battery charger with your medicinal cannabis prescription kit to ensure you do not run out of battery life. Let your vaporiser battery run down before recharging it to maximise the life of the device's battery. 

Cannabis and Driving: Understanding Impairment and Legal Limits

Currently, there is a disconnect between patients' rights and driving with cannabis in their system. Legislation that governs cannabis use and driving is not updated to include cannabis as a prescription medicine. 

Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 states that evidence of impairment is required. Because the government was finding it hard to secure prosecutions against people with drugs in their system that did not appear to be impaired. An amendment made in 2012 implemented a risk based approach for eight medicinal drugs and eight recreational drugs. THC remains on the zero-tolerance list of recreational drugs at 0.2ug per ml of blood. It is also the lowest of all substance limits provided in the legislation. 

Driving impairment is your inability to completely control your vehicle when you have a substance in your system. Police are likely to pull a vehicle over if they believe the person driving is not fit to be operating heavy machinery. Suspicion could be because of failure to indicate, poor lane discipline, not maintaining a steady position on the road or seeming like the driver is distracted. 

Patients prescribed medicinal cannabis will have inactive cannabis metabolites in their system for up to 30 days after a single use, meaning it would be impossible to avoid with daily use. Inactive metabolites do not indicate when a driver took cannabis, nor does it mean an individual is intoxicated or impaired. 

Legal advice is to cooperate with the police. Refusing to give a breath test or saliva swab is considered automatically a fail - potentially for all substances so it is best to submit a sample. You can only refuse a blood test if you have a genuine fear of needles which will need to be backed up by the opinion of a medical expert or doctor. 

Workplace Policies: Navigating the Boundaries

You are not legally required to tell your employer you receive a medicinal cannabis prescription. Having a legal prescription for medicinal cannabis will help protect you from any discrimination in the event your cannabis requirement is questioned. However, if you drive or operate heavy machinery, it is in the best interest of your employers and you for them to be aware of your prescription.

If you are drug tested at your place of employment, make sure you present a copy of your prescription before the test, as you are more than likely to fail a swab test if you have taken cannabis in the previous 12 hours. 

If you need to medicate during work hours, it is best practice to confirm with your employer where the best place to do this is to avoid causing any issues. You can refuse to use the designated smoking area to administer your medicine because medical cannabis vaporisation is not smoking or a tobacco product. In this instance, cooperate to agree on a suitable location for both parties. You must not feel ashamed of your need to medicate with cannabis during work hours. 

Medical Cannabis at Hotels and Accommodations: Policies and Precautions

It is best not to assume it is OK to vaporise in your hotel room without first notifying the staff. There have been instances where patients have taken their medical cannabis in their room, and other guests have called the police. Landlords could be prosecuted under Section 8 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 if they allow drugs to be smoked on their premises. It is important to remember, vaporisation is not smoking. If they don't know you have a legal prescription, they may alert the police themselves. This situation is potentially avoidable with transparency. The best advice is to open windows and turn on any extractor fan if possible. Putting a towel down at the bottom of the door can also help prevent any smell from escaping under the door into the corridor. 

Supporting Cannabis-Friendly Businesses and Advocacy Efforts

A nice way to show your appreciation of the businesses that support patients who use medicinal cannabis is to support them back. Tell other medicinal cannabis patients about the places they can go and experience without the worry their prescription might make it hard for them too. 

Make yourself aware of the advocacy groups and campaigns that aim to increase medicinal cannabis patients' rights, remove the stigma and improve quality of life. With everyone supporting progress, change is inevitable. Don't let the stigma surrounding medical cannabis prevent you from getting a suitable treatment. Releaf provides tailored monthly packages, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection, all based on your medical 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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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.

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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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