How to get a medical cannabis card for insomnia in the UK

How to get a medical cannabis card for insomnia in the UK


Sam North is an experienced cannabis consultant and writer who provides education and guidance for businesses, commercial projects, and private clients. With over 5 years of industry experience, Sam is passionate about the potential of cannabis to help restore balance and well-being into people's lives.

On the 1st of November 2018, the UK government made sweeping and overarching changes to the legality of cannabis in medical settings. On the back of decades of lobbying, and a gigantic shift in the social and political climate surrounding medical cannabis, the government made it legal for doctors on the GMC Specialist Register to prescribe medical cannabis.

The list of both mental and physical health conditions that now qualify patients for medical cannabis is quite exhaustive when prescribed through a private clinic. In fact, at the time of writing, almost any health issue or condition can now be treated with medical cannabis, although it is up to the discretion of a registered doctor and clinical team that has taken into account the patient, the clinical condition, the clinical evidence of efficacy and safety, and the suitability of licensed medicines.

Insomnia is a poorly understood and debilitating condition where sufferers find it difficult to either fall asleep, stay asleep for long periods, or get good quality sleep in general.

While the underlying factors behind the condition are not yet fully understood, the symptoms and effects of insomnia can be incredibly impacting. For some people, the problem becomes such an issue that they seek medical help. The pharmaceutical options available are limited, with most advice stating that the vast majority of sleeping aids should not be taken for more than two weeks without a break.

Insomnia is broken up into two main categories -

  • Short-term insomnia — This type of insomnia is usually caused by heavy stress, anxiety, or environmental changes and lasts for a few days to a few weeks.
  • Chronic or long-term insomnia – Insomnia that lasts for more than three months and is not explained by another related health issue.

The causes of insomnia

There is no true consensus on the exact causes of insomnia; however, it is generally accepted that both physical ailments and mental health issues can contribute to its onset, as well as environmental factors. This can include:

  • poor sleeping habits
  • daytime naps
  • uncomfortable sleeping area
  • overly hot or cold bedrooms
  • excessive light or noise

Mental health conditions that can be triggers for insomnia include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • stress
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • bipolar disorder
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Physical ailments can also play a role in the onset of insomnia, with certain medications and medical conditions having a direct impact on sleep patterns. These include:

  • allergies
  • arthritis
  • asthma
  • heart disease
  • chronic pain
  • thyroid disorders
  • pharmaceuticals that contain caffeine or other stimulants, and certain antidepressants, epilepsy and steroid medications.

There are also lifestyle factors that can add to the likelihood of insomnia, such as:

  • jet-lag
  • working throughout the night
  • consuming caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol within around six hours before going to bed
  • watching TV or using your computer or smartphone in the last hour before sleep

The symptoms of insomnia

Although the most common symptoms of insomnia are simply the inability to fall asleep, stay asleep for long periods, or get good quality sleep, it can also cause several other related issues, including tiredness during the day, irritability, and headaches or migraines.

In more extreme cases, it may lead to depression, anxiety disorders, or even be a contributing factor towards physical health issues such as heart disease, obesity, or metabolic syndrome.

Can you get a medical cannabis card for insomnia? 

Yes, you can. But not before discussing it with your doctor and determining if medical cannabis is the right treatment for you. The decision should be based on a proper assessment, clinical evidence of efficacy and safety, suitability of licensed medicines, and your unique health condition.

You will also need to try a range of conventional treatment options first before considering medical cannabis.

In contrast to certain states of the US, it is not a legal requirement to hold a medical cannabis card in the UK to obtain prescriptions for medicinal cannabis. Nonetheless, some private clinics opt to offer their patients a card, offering added reassurance and an additional layer of safeguarding. Releaf is one such clinic.

How to get a medical card for insomnia

Before we go any further, it is necessary to point out that medicinal cannabis is only available to those 18 years or older, and it must be prescribed by a physician who is registered with the General Medical Council Specialist Register. Most general practitioners are not qualified to prescribe medicinal cannabis.

Before you start the process of trying to access medicinal cannabis, you will need to collect a few things:

  • A copy of your passport ID page or driving licence.
  • A digital print of your most recent passport photo, or a mobile phone that can capture high-quality camera images.
  • A copy of your Summary Care Record (SCR) from your GP, alongside any supporting documents from your clinical team proving that you have been diagnosed with Insomnia.
  • Your National Health Service (NHS) number

Once you get in contact with a clinic that offers medical cannabis prescriptions, you will first be asked to provide the relevant documentation and complete a detailed eligibility questionnaire that includes your medical history, lifestyle, and current symptom severity.

Depending on which clinic you choose, you may be asked to visit in person for this first consultation, or you may be able to complete the entire process from the comfort of your own home.

If you meet the criteria for medical cannabis, the initial consultation will be followed by either an in-person meeting with a specialist or an online video consultation. During this consultation, the specialist will review the questionnaire results and ask about your current medication, medical history, and other relevant details to determine the best treatment plan.

If the doctor determines that prescribing medical cannabis is the most suitable option for you, they will provide a prescription with dosing guidelines. They may also offer guidance on how to access the medication.

Finally, you will receive your medical cannabis prescription, usually through the mail. If you select Releaf as your private cannabis clinic, you will instantly receive a digital copy of your medical cannabis card and the physical copy will be shipped along with your first prescription.

The benefits of having a medical card for insomnia

There are a few key benefits that come with having a medical card for insomnia. Firstly, you are able to legally obtain, carry, and administer the cannabis treatments prescribed by your physician without fear of prosecution or legal issues. If the police question you about your cannabis possession, you can simply show them your card to prove it is for medicinal purposes.

Releaf provides each patient with a card that includes a secure QR code. This code is linked to their individual record in our password-protected database, eliminating the need to display sensitive information on the card itself. If a patient is ever questioned by a police officer or another official regarding their medical cannabis, they can simply present their card as proof of their legal right to possess it. This approach ensures both privacy and compliance with the law, offering peace of mind to our patients.

Having a medical card allows you access to the best quality medicinal cannabis products available in the UK, as opposed to the lower-grade street drugs which can be found on the black market. This not only allows you the comfort of knowing that your cannabis is medical grade, but it also allows you and your doctor to tailor the treatment to your individual needs. You can access lab data on the cannabis products that you are prescribed, so you know exactly what is contained in the medicine that you are taking.

Holding a medical card for insomnia will also give you the peace of mind that your treatment is legitimate and prescribed by a qualified professional. This can take away all the stress, anxiety, and concern you may feel when using cannabis illegally (even if it is for a legitimate medical reason). This in itself may help ease the symptoms of insomnia and allow you to focus on your treatment plan.


Insomnia is a cruel, crippling condition that can have an enormous impact on the lives of sufferers and their loved ones. However, medicinal cannabis is increasingly becoming an accepted form of treatment for those suffering from insomnia, and it is possible to obtain a medical card for those who are eligible.

By following the process outlined in this article, you can ensure that your treatment is legitimate and of the highest quality. This allows you to focus on your health and well-being, without having to worry about the legal implications of possessing cannabis through illegal routes.

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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