EducationMedical cannabis cards for depression and anxiety in the UK

Medical cannabis cards for depression and anxiety in the UK

10 min read

Sam North

Medical cannabis cards for depression and anxiety in the UK

In the UK, patients are not legally obligated to carry a medical cannabis card. However, at Releaf, we dedicate ourselves to collaborating with and backing authorities in recognising valid medical cannabis application. We provide all our patients with a convenient medical cannabis card to assist in case they are questioned while in possession of their legally prescribed medical cannabis products. 

Contents

Depression and anxiety are the two most commonly diagnosed mental health issues here in the UK, and they are on the rise. The global pandemic of 2020 saw a sharp increase in mental health issues, with people struggling to cope with the many changes and uncertainties that it brought.

And while the curve has flattened slightly since the time of the lockdowns, the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health will most likely be felt for some time to come.

Right now, up to 21% of the adult population in the UK is dealing with some form of clinical depression, and anxiety rates are even more prevalent. If you’re one of these people and are struggling to cope with mental health issues, then you may be wondering what treatment options are available.

In November 2018, there were some sweeping changes made to the legality of medicinal cannabis. Thanks to the groundswell of public interest and support, as well as a huge shift in the political and social climate surrounding how cannabis is viewed over the previous decade or so, medicinal cannabis is now legal here in the UK.

But what does this mean for those suffering from depression and/or anxiety?

Let's find out…

Can patients in the UK get a medical cannabis card for depression and anxiety?

The question should actually be, "Can patients in the UK receive a prescription for medical cannabis for depression and/or anxiety?"

This is because, unlike certain US states and other countries where medical cannabis is legal, there is no requirement for UK medical cannabis patients to hold a cannabis card.

But, to answer the question…

Yes, you sure can. Certain mood disorders including depression and anxiety are on the list of conditions that can be treated with medicinal cannabis, as are a bunch of other physical and psychological issues.

But before you go running off to the doctor to get your first prescription, it’s important to understand the process, what to expect from the treatment, and why some private clinics choose to offer their patients a medical cannabis card (Releaf included).

What Is a medical cannabis card?

It's pretty self-explanatory, but let's break it down.

A medical cannabis card is an identifying document that helps to veriffy a patient's legal right to carry and take medicinal cannabis products prescribed by a specialist. In the UK, medical cannabis cards are issued by some private clinics, Releaf included. 

A medical cannabis card allows the patient to easily and safely identify themselves as a medical cannabis patient. It also provides the patient with formal identification that they can display should they ever be questioned by police in relation to their possession and/or administration of medicinal cannabis. 

At the time of writing, only a handful of private clinics currently offer medical cannabis cards to their patients. Patients who receive their cannabis prescription through the NHS will not be provided a medical cannabis card.

Holding a medical cannabis card provides an extra layer of protection for our patients and helps to ensure that they are receiving the highest quality care and treatment. We understand that a subsect of the population still holds strong negative opinions about the medical application of cannabis, and so we want to make sure our patients feel secure in their treatment plan.

Furthermore, particularly when discussing the utilisation of medical cannabis to alleviate anxiety and depression, having a medical card provides reassurance that your treatment is both lawful and prescribed by a qualified professional. This can help to alleviate any stress, anxiety, or apprehension that may arise from using cannabis illicitly, even if it is for a valid medical purpose.

In the UK, it is a legal requirement for all medical cannabis patients to have their original prescription with them when carrying their medical cannabis. The cannabis product should be kept in its original packaging which displays the prescription details on the packaging. The Releaf medical cannabis card acts as an added layer of protection.

What medical conditions are currently eligible for medical cannabis in the UK?

The list is quite extensive, but some of the most often recognised conditions that can be treated with medicinal cannabis are:

  • Chronic pain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and Vomiting
  • Cancer-related pain
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • IBS
  • Epilepsy
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndromes
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Migraines
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Each specific medical issue that medicinal cannabis is prescribed for comes with its own set of dose sizes and product types to help those conditions. With medicinal cannabis, you can focus on the specific issue you’re treating without worrying about the risk of harm or legal consequences.

How to get a medical card for depression and anxiety

As there is no legal requirement for UK medical cannabis patients to hold a medical cannabis card, there is also no set process for obtaining one. Each clinic may vary in its procedures, so it is best to contact the medical cannabis clinic of your choice for more information.

At Releaf, we offer a medical cannabis card for our patients. Before obtaining a medical cannabis card:

  • You will need to have an initial consultation, where you will be asked to fill out an eligibility questionnaire and provide a copy of your Summary Care Record (SCR), which can be obtained from your GP. It is a good idea to also provide any other supporting documents that confirm you suffer from clinical depression or an anxiety disorder (or both).
  • If the specialist who is looking after your case deems you to be a suitable candidate for treatment with medicinal cannabis, you will then be booked in for an online video consultation. During this appointment, the doctor will discuss your medical history and the treatments you have already tried, and will then determine the most appropriate cannabis-based medication for your individual condition.

At this point, the doctor will provide you with your prescription, and a digital copy of your medical cannabis card. You will receive the physical copy when your first order arrives at your doorstep.

What information is displayed on your Releaf medical cannabis card?

To keep our patients' personal information safe and secure, Releaf medical cannabis cards contain only the patient’s name and unique patient number, along with a small passport-style photo for identification purposes.

In addition to this, there is also a QR code that can be scanned by police or healthcare professionals in order to verify the legitimacy and validity of the card, and a copy of your prescriptions will appear, along with information notifying the police about your status as an active patient. This QR code is password protected, and the patient will receive a one-time use password in their nominated email each time the QR code is scanned.

When the QR code is scanned, the card also outlines the relevant legislation as a quick reference point, and displays Releaf's dedicated phone line for authorities.

Alternative treatments for depression and anxiety

It is important to understand that medicinal cannabis does not replace conventional medicine. It should be taken as an addition to your current treatment plan and in combination with therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.

There are many natural treatments for depression and anxiety that don’t involve cannabis.

These include:

  • Exercise
  • Mindfulness techniques and meditation
  • Nutritional changes
  • Lifestyle modifications
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Breathwork
  • Herbal remedies

Western medicine often puts a heavy emphasis on pharmaceuticals and other forms of medication, but when it comes to mental health, holistic and alternative approaches can often make a dramatic difference to the outcome.

Think of them as tools to help in your recovery, and do your homework before trying them out. Alternative treatments should not be seen as a substitute for conventional approaches, but rather as a valuable complement. They can effectively enhance the overall treatment process, providing additional options and support for individuals seeking optimal health and well-being.

It’s also important to note that the administration of medicinal cannabis is not recommended for all people, and that high THC products have the potential to exacerbate your depression or anxiety symptoms.

The most recent research points towards CBD and certain terpenes being the most effective in treating depression, while products containing a low dose of THC (less than 5%) and a high dose of CBD (10% +) are best in the treatment of anxiety.

Conclusion

If you are currently battling the scourge that is clinical depression or one of the many anxiety disorders, then medicinal cannabis may be a viable option for you. When afflicted by such conditions, the idea that there are viable alternative treatment options may seem ridiculous, but medicinal cannabis can be a powerful tool to help you on your journey to recovery.

Releaf understands that embarking on your medical cannabis journey can be intimidating – that’s why we offer tailored monthly packages, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and our unique medical cannabis card to give you the peace of mind that your treatment is protected, all based on your medical cannabis prescription.

Releaf - Removing the Stigma from Medical Cannabis

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

Sam North, a seasoned writer with over five years' experience and expertise in medicinal cannabis, brings clarity to complex concepts, focusing on education and informed use.

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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