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How to get a medical cannabis card in the UK

05 August 2022

Key points

  • The Cancard scheme in the UK alerts police to the fact that you take cannabis for a condition that qualifies you for a private prescription.
  • You can apply for the Cancard scheme on their website.
  • You will need to provide your ID and your Summary Care Record to receive a medical cannabis card.
  • A Cancard is NOT a free pass for buying and using cannabis bought on the Illicit Market. 

If you are currently waiting for your medical cannabis prescription or have yet to get a consultation from a specialist doctor, you might be eligible for a medical cannabis card. In this article, we’ll explain what the Cancard scheme is and when you might want to join it.

Am I eligible for medical cannabis? Check eligibility

Do I need a medical cannabis card in the UK?

It is difficult to get an NHS prescription for medical cannabis. Only a handful of people in the UK meet the strict criteria to access cannabis for their medical conditions. 

However, there are over 6,000 people with a private prescription for medical cannabis. This means that many more people suffer from their conditions and cannot access the medication they need. 

Additionally, the NHS will only prescribe medical cannabis for two forms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and nausea from chemotherapy. Therefore many people with painful conditions that are not on this list go without the help that medical cannabis can provide. 

Plus, it’s estimated that there are around 1.4 million people in the UK who use ‘recreational’cannabis to help alleviate their symptoms. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a rise in arrests for cannabis use, as police time was diverted from other crimes due to the lockdowns. 

People who were unable to access a prescription or waiting for their approval were arrested, including parents of children with epilepsy. After Carly Barton, the Director of Cancard, took this issue to the Police Federation, the Cancard scheme was born in 2020. 

What is the Cancard scheme? 

Cancard is a membership scheme that verifies that a person is using cannabis for medical needs and is either waiting for a prescription or cannot get one at the moment. 

It is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card. However, the possession of this card allows police officers to use their discretion and avoid arresting people for carrying cannabis. You need to have a qualifying condition to be part of the scheme. 

How does Cancard work?

It is thought that 73% of patients cannot afford a medical cannabis prescription despite suffering from a qualifying condition. The card should allow police officers to use their discretion when it comes to people found in possession of cannabis or growing cannabis for personal medical use.

However, cannabis is still a Class B drug and smoking cannabis – even medical cannabis flowers – is illegal in the UK. 

According to the UK police, around 30,000 people carry a Cancard in the UK. And this number is likely to grow. 

How much is a Cancard? 

There is a £29 annual fee for a Cancard. This is charged to cover the costs of running the scheme. You should contact Cancard directly if you cannot afford this fee but still qualify for membership. 

How to get a medical cannabis card? 

You can apply for a Cancard if you have a condition that makes you eligible for a private medical cannabis prescription. You do not need to have a private prescription to get this card, as it exists because not everyone can afford private healthcare. 

You then need to apply for the scheme through the Cancard website and provide: 

  • Photographic ID such as a passport or driver’s licence
  • Your NHS number
  • GP’s name, address and telephone number
  • Your Summary Care Record

These details are then checked to see if you are eligible for the card. 

If you already have a private prescription for medical cannabis, you may still want to apply for the scheme should you ever get stopped by the police. It can also help with reducing any stigma around using cannabis for your health.  

What is a carers card? 

If you are a carer for someone suffering from one of the qualifying conditions, then you may also want to carry a Canard. The scheme offers a carers’ card, which is particularly useful for parents of children suffering from epilepsy. All medication should be kept out of reach of children, and carrying the medication that helps reduce seizures for your child when you don’t need a prescription yourself comes with a risk. 

The carers card helps reduce this risk for both those who do have a private prescription and those who cannot afford one yet. 

What to do if you are stopped and searched?

If you are stopped and searched while carrying a Cancard, it is important to stay calm and present the card to the police officer at the earliest opportunity. 

Private medical cannabis prescriptions

It is always better to try to use medical cannabis prescribed by a professional instead of sourcing the drug on the illicit market. This will mean that you are getting the right level of cannabinoids for your needs from licensed, medical-grade cannabis. If you’re looking for an easy, fast and affordable way to get a legal medical cannabis prescription in the UK, schedule a remote appointment with an expert at the Medical Cannabis Clinics right now.


If you have a diagnosis from your GP for a condition that qualifies you for medical cannabis, then it may be worth obtaining and carrying a medical cannabis card. Remember that this card does not protect you from prosecution if you are caught carrying illegal cannabis, but it informs police to use their discretion. 

Equally, carrying a medical cannabis card can help reduce any stigma attached to using your private medical cannabis prescription. It is always better to use prescribed cannabis rather than buy it on the illicit market. 


How do I get a prescription for Sativex?

Sativex is the name of one of the two licensed medical cannabis medications. You can get a prescription for a wide range of conditions through specialist private doctors in the UK. First, you will need to book a consultation with the Medical Cannabis Clinics, and the doctors will access your records before meeting with you. You will then be able to explain how your condition is impacting your life and ask questions at your consultation. If Sativex is right for your needs, your doctor will prescribe the medication, and you will need to order it from a specific pharmacy. You cannot get Sativex through your GP, although if you meet certain criteria, they may make a referral to an NHS doctor. It is quicker and easier to access Sativex through a private practice such as the Medical Cannabis Clinics.

Is a Cancard legit?

The Cancard scheme was developed through collaboration with the police, doctors and patients. It includes a holographic photo, and you need to have received a diagnosis for a qualifying condition from your GP to get the card. If you qualify for a private medical cannabis prescription, you will also qualify for a medical cannabis card in the UK. You do not need to have a private prescription to be eligible for the card, but you may wish to carry a card if you do.


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