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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.
  • When stopped by police while carrying cannabis for health purposes, your medical cannabis prescription is essential legal proof. A Cancard can be helpful but is not necessary.
  • 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 if you have not yet had a consultation with 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 consider joining it.

Am I eligible for medical cannabis? Check eligibility

Medical Cannabis Versus Illicit Marijuana: Which One Should You Use?

When considering the use of marijuana, it’s important to understand the differences between medical cannabis and illicit weed. Below is a table that highlights the key distinctions between the two:


Medical Cannabis

Illicit Marijuana

Legal Status

Legal with a prescription.

Illegal and subject to legal penalties.

Quality Control

Regulated for purity, potency, and safety.

No quality or safety regulations.


Used for specific medical conditions.

Recreational use with no medical oversight.


Dispensed at licensed pharmacies.

Sold illegally, often in unsafe conditions.


May be covered by insurance or healthcare plans.

Unregulated pricing, which is often expensive.

Consistency in Potency

It is controlled and consistent.

Varies greatly, leading to unpredictable effects

Advisory Support

Consultation with healthcare professionals.

No professional guidance or dosage control.

Why Choose Lyphe for Your Medical Cannabis Prescription?

Lyphe Clinic logo.

When it comes to selecting a reliable medical cannabis provider, Lyphe stands out for several key reasons:

  • Trusted medical expertise: Our doctors are among the most seasoned in the UK, offering reliable and knowledgeable medical cannabis treatment.
  • Seamless online experience: From booking to receiving your medicine, our fully online service ensures comfort and ease.
  • Dedicated support: You’re not alone in your treatment journey; we provide ongoing, personalised patient support.

If you’re considering medical cannabis, Lyphe’s blend of expertise, convenience, and dedicated support makes it an excellent choice. Ready to explore your options? Schedule an online appointment with Lyphe today and take the first step towards safe and legal treatment.

Do I Need a Medical Cannabis Card in the UK?

Securing a medical cannabis prescription through the NHS in the UK is notably challenging, with stringent criteria that only a few meet. This situation is starkly contrasted by the fact that there are over 6,000 individuals who have obtained private prescriptions, underscoring a significant disparity in access to this essential medication. Consequently, a large number of people continue to suffer from their conditions without the potential relief offered by medical cannabis.

The NHS’s limitations in prescribing medical marijuana are also a contributing factor. Currently, it is only prescribed for two specific forms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and to alleviate nausea induced by chemotherapy. This narrow scope excludes a wide range of painful conditions, leaving many without the therapeutic benefits of medical cannabis.

Adding to the complexity of this issue is the estimated 1.4 million people in the UK who use ‘recreational’ cannabis to self-medicate and alleviate their symptoms. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the situation, leading to an increase in cannabis-related arrests. This was partly due to a shift in police focus during the lockdowns, impacting individuals who were either waiting for prescription approval or unable to access a prescription, including parents of children with epilepsy. 

This critical situation was brought to the attention of the Police Federation by Carly Barton, the Director of Cancard. Her advocacy efforts were instrumental in creating the Cancard scheme in 2020. This initiative marked a significant step forward in addressing the needs of those who require medical cannabis but are unable to access it through traditional channels.

What Is the Cancard Scheme?

A hand holding a Cancard.

Cancard is a membership scheme that verifies that a person is using marijuana 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?

An estimated 73% of patients with qualifying conditions are unable to afford a medical cannabis prescription. The introduction of the Cancard is a significant development in this context. It empowers police officers to exercise discretion regarding individuals found in possession of cannabis or cultivating marijuana for personal medical use.

Despite these advancements, it’s important to note that cannabis remains classified as a Class B drug in the UK. Additionally, the act of smoking weed, including prescribed medical cannabis flowers, continues to be illegal.

As of now, the Cancard is carried by approximately 30,000 people across the UK, according to police reports. This figure is expected to rise as awareness and acceptance of the Cancard scheme increases. Hence, the Cancard represents a pivotal shift in the approach towards medical weed users, acknowledging the necessity of this treatment for many and providing a level of protection under the current legal framework.

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 non-NHS medical marijuana 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. 

What Is a Carer’s Card?

Carer's card example.

If you are caring for someone with a qualifying condition, carrying a Cancard may be a wise decision. This is particularly relevant for parents of children with epilepsy. To this end, the scheme offers a specialised carer’s card, tailored to acknowledge the unique responsibilities of caregivers. 

It’s imperative to ensure all medication, especially those that help manage seizures, is kept out of children’s reach. Hence, as a carer, you might find yourself in situations where you’re carrying such medication without having a personal prescription. This can pose certain risks. The carer’s card is designed to alleviate these risks, providing reassurance not only to those with a private prescription but also to those who are yet to secure one.

What to Do if You Are Stopped and Searched?

If you are stopped by the police and are carrying cannabis for medical purposes, it’s important to remember that your medical prescription is your primary proof of legality. While carrying a Cancard can be helpful, it is not necessary. The most crucial document to have is your medical cannabis prescription. 

If you are a patient at Lyphe and use Dispensary Green pharmacy, you can access your prescription online, allowing you to download and present it as needed. Always stay calm and present your prescription to the police officer at the earliest opportunity to show that your marijuana is legally prescribed.

Private Medical Cannabis Prescriptions

Doctor issuing a medical marijuana prescription to a patient, with a cannabis plant and a bottle of CBD oil on the desk.

It is always better to try to use medical weed 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 an online appointment with an expert at Lyphe 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 marijuana card. Remember that this card does not protect you from prosecution if you are caught carrying illegal weed, but it informs police to use their discretion. 

Equally, carrying a medical weed 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.

Discover the path to obtaining a medical marijuana card in the UK with our specialised guidance. Book your appointment with a Lyphe expert today and take the first step toward informed and legal use,


What is Sativex?

Sativex is the name of one of the two licensed medical cannabis medications. It is a cannabis-based oral spray, including both THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), and it’s one of the few legal medical marijuana treatments available in the UK.

How do I get a prescription for Sativex?

To begin, schedule a consultation with Lyphe. Prior to your appointment, our doctors will review your medical records. At the consultation, you will have the opportunity to describe how your condition affects your life and to address any questions regarding your treatment or care. If Sativex is right for your needs, your doctor will prescribe the medication.

What happens after I get prescribed Sativex?

After receiving the prescription for Sativex, you will need to obtain the medication from a designated pharmacy. You cannot get Sativex through your GP, although if you meet certain criteria, they may make a referral to an NHS doctor. However, it is quicker and easier to access Sativex through a private practice such as Lyphe.

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.

Do I need a separate prescription for a medical cannabis card in the UK?

If you qualify for a private medical marijuana 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.



Barton, C. (2021, November 10). How Cancard was brewed. Cancard.

Get Your Cancard Here. Cancard. (n.d.).

National Police Chiefs’ Council. (n.d.). Cancard Fact Sheet. National Polic Chiefs’ Council. Retrieved from

Walsh, E. (2022, November 10). Cancard scheme launches: What you need to know. Volteface. 

Author: Bojan
Author page

Bojan Ambrus, Head of Marketing & Digital Product at Lyphe Group, is a data-driven growth marketing professional with over 15 years of rich experience. His background includes roles such as Head of Marketing at and growth marketing roles in various enterprises, startups, and scale-ups. His expertise in building and positioning businesses is particularly valuable in the cannabis sector, where he navigates its complexities and regulatory challenges. His strategic marketing insights make Bojan a key player in shaping Lyphe Group's marketing and digital product strategies.

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