A system of ‘cannabis cards’ for medicinal users which will effectively decriminalise the drug is being backed by police chiefs.
Around three and a half million people with health conditions will be allowed to use the card under the proposal, according to The Times.
Those with cancer, depression and multiple sclerosis will be eligible to use it and will identify them as a ‘registered medical cannabis patient’.
Patients who have been authorised to use medicinal cannabis for their conditions will not face arrest following the introduction of a new card which has received the backing of police
Medical cannabis has been legal in the UK for nearly two years, though only a small number of people have received an NHS prescription for the drug
And it will mean police officers have a justification for not arresting them when they are in possession of cannabis.
The plan is being backed by the Police Federation of England and Wales and the National Police Chiefs Council is working with the organisers of the cards to design and implement it.
Patients who use cannabis to relieve pain from their medical issues find themselves being arrested for possession of the drug.
Currently, it is believe more than a million people in the UK buy cannabis illegally to self-medicate.
Medical cannabis has been legal in the UK for nearly two years.
But due to strict rules, a small number of people have been given an NHS prescription, and the cost of a private consultation has priced many out of the option of legal cannabis.
Those without a prescription and caught in possession of the drug face a five-year prison sentence as well as an unlimited fine.
The cannabis card, also referred to as CanCard, is set to be introduced in as private scheme November and will give people who need medical cannabis but cannot afford a prescription support in order to avoid arrest.
Simon Kempton, of the Police Federation, told The Times: ‘Our members didn’t join the police to lock up these people
‘This is an initiative that I support, for a number of reasons. Primarily it gives officers information on which to base their decision-making around whether or not to use discretion or to arrest a member of public.’
Jason Harwin, from the police council, said: ‘This is a real live issue, where the police service finds itself stuck in the middle of a situation where individuals should legitimately be able to access their prescribed medication but because of availability and cost they can’t and therefore to address their illness rely on having to use illicit cannabis.’
‘The card isn’t a get out of jail free card . . . it does not give holders the right to carry illicit drugs. It’s a flag to us that the person should be accessing medication,’ he added.
The police council wants to make sure the cannabis card, funded by companies in the medical cannabis industry, is not taken advantage of by organised crime gangs.