The BMA and RCGP have said they do not support a scheme to provide ID cards for people who qualify for a legal cannabis prescription.
Concerns have been raised by practices about the Cancard UK website which offers the ability to apply for a holographic photo ID card to be verified by the patients GP.
The card, which costs £19.99 a year plus a one off £10 admin fee, is proposed for people who qualify for a prescription of medicinal cannabis but are unable to afford one.
It allows police officers to exercise discretion by understanding that the patient caught in possession is medicating for their condition, information on the website states.
To apply, patients need to meet certain criteria including having a diagnosis (confirmed by their GP) that is currently being prescribed for privately and having tried two types of prescription medication or have discussed and discounted these options based on side effects or dependence concerns.
Patients are asked to provide their GP details for confirmation or a copy of their summary care record.
GPs can now prescribe cannabis-based medicinal products under a shared care agreement as long as the initial prescription was made by a specialist.
In a statement the BMA and RCGP said they support the use of cannabis-based products for medicinal use in humans under the supervision of specialist clinicians or prescription of MHRA-authorised licenced products by doctors who have the necessary clinical experience.
But they could not support the use of the Cancard, ‘nor the suggestion that UK registered GPs sign a declaration confirming a diagnosis in order for the card to be issued’.
‘The Cancard UK website states that the Cancard has been designed in collaboration with GPs but as far as we are aware there is no formal endorsement from the Royal College of GPs, nor has the BMA, as your trade union, been consulted,’ the statement said.
‘Whilst we sympathise with patients who struggle to pay a private prescription charge, we do not believe that this is a justifiable reason to encourage the purchase of unregulated unlicensed cannabis products from unregulated or illegal dealers.’
The statement added that if a patient is deemed to meet the criteria for an NHS prescription for an MHRA authorised product then this may be issued where appropriate. Patients on low incomes or with medical conditions qualifying for prescription charge exemption will be exempt from prescription charge in line with current regulations.
Carly Barton, the creator of Cancard said the verification process had been designed with a medical working group of eight doctors that included GPs.
‘In order to verify the patient has a condition there is the option for a patient to submit a summary of care, or, we can confirm with their GP that they have a diagnosis listed.
‘This is in no way implicating a doctor in the recommendation of using or not using a medicine, it is simply a way of confirming the patient has a condition.’
She added: ‘The feedback from GPs so far has been incredibly positive, it is very much being seen as a harm reduction tool in order for their patients to feel less stress over possible criminalisation simply for maintaining their health.’