BlogThe Releaf medical cannabis card explained

The Releaf medical cannabis card explained

9 min read

Sarah Sinclair

Releaf offers every patient a medical cannabis card with their prescription to help ensure peace of mind when administering their medicine in public. Here’s everything you need to know about how it works.

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Despite medical cannabis now being legal in the UK for over five years, there is still a lingering stigma and a lack of awareness around its legality — including among law enforcement. This has left patients experiencing unfair treatment and discrimination for the use of a prescribed medicine. 

Releaf’s Medical Cannabis Card aims to help break down these barriers, providing education and validating medical cannabis as a legitimate treatment. 

In this article, we explain everything you need to know and answer some FAQs about how it all works.

What is a UK medical cannabis card?

Medical cannabis was legalised in the UK in 2018. According to the law, patients are required to carry a copy of their current prescription alongside their medication at all times, to prove they are using cannabis for a legitimate, medicinal purpose. 

The Releaf medical cannabis card provides a way for patients to do this conveniently, and ensure they are able to access their current prescription at any given time. 

If a Releaf patient was to be stopped by the police, their medical cannabis card would provide all the information the police need to verify patient status, because as well as storing all prescription and clinic information on an encrypted, password protected server, it can act as a form of photo ID.

When might I need to use a medical cannabis card?

Despite medical cannabis having been legal in the UK for over five years, there is still a lot of stigma associated with its use and many people are not aware that it can be legally prescribed. 

This includes some professionals working in law enforcement and other statutory authorities. 

Research conducted by Releaf found that more than half (58.5%) of those surveyed were unsure about the legal status of medical cannabis in the UK. Concerns around stigma were also an issue, with 34.16% of respondents discouraged from using medicinal cannabis as they were worried it would be mistaken as being illegal.

Patients can use a medical cannabis card to validate their prescription if they are stopped by police or should they run into challenges with other professionals such as landlords or employers regarding their prescription. 

It might even be helpful to have on hand when explaining a prescription to a friend or family member.

What does UK law say about medical cannabis cards?

UK law says that if a patient is challenged by law enforcement for having cannabis on their person, a copy of their prescription is enough to validate their legal possession of the product. 

However, it can be stressful and intimidating for patients to find this information in the heat of the moment, especially if they feel they are at risk of arrest. 

How can I get a medical cannabis card?

Releaf supplies every patient of the clinic with a medical cannabis card as part of their subscription. 

Is there an NHS medical cannabis card?

No. Currently, the NHS does not offer any form of medical cannabis card. 

Only a handful of NHS prescriptions have been issued for unlicensed cannabis-based products.

While some licensed cannabis-based medicines are routinely prescribed through the NHS, these are treated the same way as any other medication and come as oils or sprays, rather than flower—which tends to create the most confusion due to its association with recreational use. 

Private companies such as Releaf have stepped in, in an attempt to provide patients with some form of protection from unfair treatment and criminalisation.

However, it is important to note that neither the NHS, nor the Home Office, have endorsed any of the medical cannabis cards which are currently available in the UK.

Why does Releaf offer every patient a medical cannabis card?

There have been many reports of patients being stopped by police, refused entry to events or venues, and even running into issues with landlords and employers regarding their legal cannabis prescription. 

Releaf offers all patients with a medical cannabis card in order to offer some form of protection and peace of mind to patients should they find themselves in this situation.

It is also the case that patients who could benefit from medical cannabis are put off from trying the treatment due to fear of the stigma and challenges they may experience in their day to day life, which is something Releaf wants to prevent.

A medical cannabis card gives you quick and easy access to all your medical information and prescription records, should you find yourself in a situation where you need to prove your medicine is legitimate. 

It also makes things easier for the police officers involved, enabling them to make a quick and confident decision about the legality of the cannabis in question and how best to proceed.

Tim Kirby, Releaf’s Managing Director, commented: 

“Should a patient be challenged by the police, sometimes having to show a physical FP10 prescription can feel intimidating, and requires explanation or confirmation that the medication listed on the prescription is medical cannabis.

We wanted to remove this fear and stop any challenges in their tracks, by having a convenient card that requires no explanation. 

When a patient presents their Releaf Medical Cannabis Card, the police can make a quick and confident decision that they are consuming cannabis for medicinal purposes and their entire supply chain is completely, 100% legal.”

What is the difference between medical cannabis cards in the UK?

Releaf’s Medical Cannabis Card is the only card in the UK which is supplied by a CQC registered clinic. 

There are other cannabis cards available in the UK, but not all have the same qualifying rules or offer the same protections to patients. It is best to inform yourself about the different options available before committing and ensure you choose one which you feel offers the best form of protection for your needs. 

How does the Releaf medical cannabis card work?

The medical cannabis card is a convenient way to digitally carry all of your prescription information around with you so it is always on hand should you need it. 

Once you have had your initial consultation and a doctor has decided it is appropriate to prescribe medical cannabis, your card will be sent out in the post.

In the event you need to use your card, it is easy to navigate and can be explained in three simple steps:

Scan the QR code 

The card has a QR code that can be scanned by law enforcement to confirm that the person is legally allowed to carry and consume prescribed medical cannabis.

The police officer can scan the QR code using their smartphone camera. Once the web page has loaded on the smartphone an email will automatically be sent to the patient to request approval.

Receive an email requesting access

Within 2-3 minutes the patient will receive an email, in which they can accept or deny the officer access to their Releaf medical records.

Access is granted

With approval from the patient the officer will be permitted access to their records, including active patient status, FP Prescription and all past prescriptions.

The officer can also request a copy of the patients’ records by entering their email at the bottom of the page.

What information do they contain?

The card itself holds a passport-style photo of the cardholder, along with their first name, surname and patient number. It also states that the owner of the card is a ‘UK registered medical cannabis patient’.

Once scanned, and with approval from the patient, the QR code holds all the information related to their Releaf medical record. This includes their active patient status, FP Prescription and all past prescriptions.

All of the details regarding a patients’ medical cannabis prescription are secured via a passcode, known only to them, which can be provided to the police in the event of being stopped.

Releaf operates under strict data protection guidelines and adheres to GDPR, so will never share or sell personal information.

What protections do medical cannabis cards offer?

Releaf’s medical cannabis card is designed to offer a form of protection and validation in the situations described above. It can also help instil confidence and ease anxieties about using your prescription in public and when going about your daily life. 

Are medical cannabis cards recognised by the police?

The UK Home Office has not officially endorsed any medical cannabis card in the UK. 

However, Releaf have worked alongside expert witnesses and a police liaison officer with the hope of facilitating further support, education, and awareness of medical cannabis, to as many individual officers as possible. 

When a Releaf medical cannabis card is scanned by a police officer, it informs them of the legalisation of medical cannabis in 2018, and outlines the current legislations in place. 

How do I sign up for a Releaf medical cannabis card?

You can use Releaf’s free eligibility checker to determine if a medical cannabis prescription could be right for you. A team of expert clinicians will review your application and if appropriate you will be invited to schedule an appointment with a specialist consultant.

If, during the initial consultation, the clinician decides cannabis is right for you, they will issue your prescription and guide you through the next steps. 

Your medical cannabis card will be sent in the post as part of your starter pack, with everything you need to begin treatment. Good luck! 

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

Sarah, a distinguished journalist with over a decade in publishing and communications, now excels in cannabis health and policy journalism in the UK, advocating for informed health decisions through her award-winning work.

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