Cancard launched in November 2020, aiming to provide patients with legal support in the event of a police stop and search, when in possession of their medication. In the 3 years since their launch, the team at Cancard have been involved in a whole range of initiatives and campaigns – from speaking at events in Parliament to letting patients buy company shares in a medical cannabis grow. Let’s take a look at what they’ve been up to so far this year.
Who are Cancard and what do they do?
If you’re not familiar with Cancard and their work allow us to explain.
Despite medical cannabis being made legal in 2018, the fact remains that prescriptions still remain prohibitively costly for many people self-medicating through the illicit market. This leaves these patients stuck in limbo – accessing cannabis for medical purposes but not afforded the protections of the legal market. This is where Cancard comes in.
The Cancard itself is a medical ID card made for patients, designed by doctors and backed by senior representatives of the Police Federation. For the cost of £30, Cancard membership allows the police to exercise discretion by recognising the patient caught in possession of cannabis has done so because of medical reasons.
The process of applying for a Cancard is similar to applying for a prescription. The scheme requires patients to provide evidence of a qualifying condition/symptom, via their SOC or letter from a consultant specialist confirming they have a condition which is currently being prescribed for privately. This shows that the patient legally and medically qualifies for a medical cannabis prescription, they just can’t access one due to financial barriers.
The team at Cancard also provides police training that accompanies the National Police Chiefs’ Council Guidance and urges officers to use discretion when dealing with medical cannabis patients. Cancard view that their ongoing relationship with the police serves to address the stigma that still surrounds medical cannabis. Training is delivered by a member of the Cancard team and covers the following areas:
- That medicinal cannabis is legal and was made available on private prescription in 2018.
- How the body’s endocannabinoid system works and the conditions for which cannabis is prescribed and used.
- The types of discrimination faced by patients including the social stigma that surrounds cannabis consumption.
- The purpose of a Cancard, emphasising that a Cancard is a choice and not a requirement.
- That holders of a medicinal cannabis prescription do not need to have a Cancard to prove legitimate consumption of cannabis, but that some do to enable them to access the support and the resources that we provide.
What have Cancard been up to recently?
Cancard continued to diversify their work even further this year. Back in June they announced their latest venture – partnering with Grow Lab Organics (GLO) to enable a licensed medical cannabis farm to become a community-owned endeavour. This project is the first of its kind in the British Isles.
Although patients have been passionate about campaigning to ‘grow their own’ medicine, the team at Cancard and GLO point out that within the current legal climate, ‘owning their grow’ is the next closest thing.
After securing an initial £1m in funding, they opened up to investments from Cancard holders and the wider public. In return, those who invested were offered a say in how the company is run, as well as a share of any future profits.
Talking to Alex Fray (CEO) and Charlie Price (CSO) of GLO, it’s clear that giving patients a say in the industry is a driving force behind the project:
“A fundamental part of our philosophy is to democratise access to legal cannabis, and enable patients to be part of the emerging legal industry. Ultimately they are the key stakeholder that this industry exists to serve, so it is entirely logical that they should be represented by cannabis companies.
Looking at it from a business perspective, having patient involvement in this way means we will be aligned with their needs and desires and we will make fewer mistakes.”
This joint-venture is passionate about placing patients at the centre of everything they do – that’s why Cancard Founder, Carly Barton, is taking on the role of Chief Community Officer to ensure that patients’ views are expressed and heard.
The partnership has also attracted the attention of a number of famous faces, including UFC’s Paddy Pimblett (aka Paddy the Baddy), music producer Wilkinson and Chase and Status’ Saul Milton – helping to raise the profile of their cause even more.
In July, the team made a further announcement exclusively for Cancard holders. For an early upgrade fee of £20 patients could assign themselves twenty company shares, with the potential to turn a profit. Included in this fee was their next 12 months of Cancard membership and a fully funded appointment with a medical cannabis clinic.
This offering must have been popular amongst the Cancard community as just over a week later they secured their £5m target and surpassed their original goal.
What’s next for Cancard and GLO?
Alex and Charlie of GLO are optimistic for the future now that funding has been secured:
“Cannabis is a heavily regulated industry so the next step is regulatory approval for the fundraise, then it goes to contracts and then drawdown. This is when it gets really exciting as we start to build and the vision becomes reality!”
GLO’s attention now turns to securing regulatory approval and building their cultivation facility on the Isle of Man, which is set to take place in two phases. Once the facility is fully operational it will operate 22 separate 200m² flower rooms and 6 drying rooms, with the ability to produce over 20 unique strains per year.
Sustainability is at the heart of the build. Heat, energy and water will all be recovered and recycled within the facility and plant stalks will be reused as part of the product packaging.
With this exciting partnership now very much underway, patients and the wider industry should keep their eyes peeled for what happens next.
This piece was written by Volteface Content and Media Officer Megan Townsend. She is particularly interested in the reform of drug legislation, subcultural drug use and harm reduction initiatives. She also has an MA in Criminology from Birmingham City University. Tweets @megant2799.