Shetland MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat, Beatrice Wishart, has questioned the Scottish Government about the need for clarity for medical cannabis users. Asking the Cabinet Secretary for Justice whether a scheme was being developed to assist medical cannabis patients avoid warnings, fines or other criminal footprints, for possession of cannabis Wishart pointed to the Cancard scheme already established.
The Cabinet Secretary told Ms Wishart that while the Scottish Government did not support the Cancard scheme he did believe further clarity for medical cannabis patients may be required. The Cabinet Secretary stated he will write to Police Scotland asking if they would share advice and guidance for legal prescriptions sent through the Royal Mail.
Cannabis medicines became legal in 2018. Cancard was developed to allow the police to exercise discretion by understanding that the patient caught in possession of cannabis is medicating for their condition.
Wishart’s call follows a high-profile case in Shetland of medical cannabis confiscation by Police Scotland. The charity, Dogs Against Drugs, detected cannabis leading to police seizing the cannabis prescription at the Lerwick sorting office.
After the Question session Ms Wishart said:
“I am grateful to the Cabinet Secretary for offering to write to Police Scotland so that guidance on legal medical cannabis prescriptions, sent through Royal Mail, might be shared to better inform patients.
“Patients should not fear criminal footprints and negative interactions simply because of the medicine they are prescribed.
“Clear guidance, expectations and schemes like Cancard, could help reduce fear and negative outcomes for patients.
“There is still a difference between legal and illegal cannabis and Dogs Against Drugs alongside Police Scotland do a great job in preventing banned substances from being imported into Shetland.”
Notes to Editors
You can watch the exchange here.
Ms Wishart’s Questions (check against delivery):
To ask the Scottish Government whether it will work with Police Scotland to provide clear guidelines on legal medical cannabis prescriptions sent to patients by post via Royal Mail.
Police in Shetland rely on the hard work of the charity Dogs Against Drugs to assist them in their work to tackle illegal drugs being brought into the islands, recently seizing £25,000 worth of illicit goods. These dogs are clever but cannot tell what is legal and what is illegal, which is what happened to one of my constituents recently when his private prescription for medical cannabis was seized as a consequence of dog detection at Royal Mail’s sorting office.
Patients with a diagnosis and a legal prescription for medical cannabis want to ensure that they do not have any negative outcome such as any sort of criminal footprint so does the Scottish Government have any plans to help Police Officers identify legal prescriptions by introducing a scheme to assist? And is the Cabinet Secretary aware of an existing scheme called Cancard which could be used as another tool in the toolbox for police officers to better assess situations they may face.
Cancard’s website can be found here.