by Carly Barton
Innovation in the cannabis space is usually a really exciting endeavour. New scientific lab discoveries of unheard of cannabinoids, nanotechnology advancing consumption absorption, developments in metered dosing, go-go-gadget cannabis arms....or something.
But, all I had was a poor internet connection, enthusiasm and a giant box of tea bags. It was back to basics - what could I achieve with good old fashioned conversation and multiple visits to the kettle? Apparently something, as Cancard was born.
At the start of the lock-down, I was getting increasingly concerning emails from patients who, as policing priorities changed and there was less visible street crime to tackle, became interested in investigating reports of cannabis consumption. We had wheelchair users awoken from sleep at 5am with a short, sharp boot through their front door. Children of parents with epilepsy traumatised by seeing their Mum in cuffs. We had a patient with MS who sold his sofa to replace medicine that was confiscated from him. He spent the next two months sitting on a hard wooden chair. We had an 80 year old man being dragged through court for growing plants to treat his multiple health conditions. The list was exhausting and emotionally tough to plough through with optimism.
I was angry, but I was also able to understand that the situation that both police and patients found themselves in, was one neither party was overly keen on. I had some contacts in the police, they were concerned that their police officers were being put in a tricky position. These officers did not want to go home at the end of the day knowing that they have left someone in pain or at risk of a Grand mal seizure.
Luckily Lidl had a deal on a giant box of Yorkshire tea bags, and, despite Virgin Media refusing to install functioning internet - I had a decent hot-spot connection on my phone. This was the opposite of innovation, it was a return to old fashioned human connection, albeit through shaky zoom calls with my phone propped on a windowsill.
I started to call the police, beginning with the Police Federation. I explained the emotional turmoil that the situation was causing for 1.4 million people consuming cannabis in order to be well in the UK. I sat and I told their stories, we drank tea, it was that simple.
Four tea bags in and we were starting to get somewhere. Sometimes innovation is sparkly, or all-singing all-dancing science. Sometimes it's just a woman in her joggers reaching for change.
As the summer peaked we developed a working group, which, after half a box of teabags had expanded to include some of the most senior police in the UK - all ready and willing to help build something that would help both patients and the police deal with the situation they were put in. We had two routes with to make change without a law change, these were: national guidance from the top, and instilling confidence in use of given discretion. We decided to use both.
Cancard was conceived.