A 28-year-old man from Lerwick in Scotland made headlines across the UK after his prescribed medical cannabis was intercepted in the local Royal Mail sorting office and seized by police officers.
Liam Lewis was legally issued the cannabis flower, which he needs in order to manage his debilitating chronic migraines, by private cannabis clinic Sapphire Medical Clinics.
Chief Inspector of the police, Stuart Clemenson, said that it’s possibly the first time for police across Scotland where a package containing legal cannabis was detected by a drugs dog.
“We just hadn’t come across it, that’s the long and short of it,” Clemenson told Shetnews.co.uk.
‘Just after drugs’
Back in January 2022, Liam had to undergo a series of interviews with the local police in Shetland.
After a 2 week long enquiry, which also involved Liam’s doctor, Sapphire Medical Clinics, and Royal Mail, the Chief Inspector claimed that Liam couldn’t provide the “necessary paperwork”.
Clemenson also said that if Liam had come to the police with all the paperwork, they would have returned his prescribed cannabis in a very short period of time.
During the interviews, however, Liam had produced valid documents which showed the prescription and medical notes from the clinic, but police refused to accept the evidence and slapped him with an official written warning.
They stated that Liam was “just after drugs”.
Change in law
In November 2018, the cannabis laws in the UK were amended which would allow specialist doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis to their patients. Since then, thousands of patients have been prescribed medicinal cannabis to treat a wide range of conditions.
In spite of the law changing back in 2018, there still seems to be concerns on how well-informed the police actually are.
There have been cases similar to Liam’s where officers have detained patients with legal cannabis prescriptions, confiscated medicines, and also refused to return them.
Policing of medical cannabis
As legal cannabis access spreads across the UK, cases of wrongful enforcement by misinformed police appear to be increasing.
Patients who’ve legally obtained their medicine still fear that there may be a chance of it being confiscated, or in some cases, being detained themselves.
In the UK, it seems that there is a cocktail of confusion when it comes to cannabis in general. Because of this, medicinal cannabis consumers are having to deal with more stress and anxiety as a result of never being 100% confident in how the authorities will react.
While there are still some cases of police mishaps, it does seem increasingly likely that police education regarding medical cannabis in the UK is showing signs of improvement.
In Liam’s case, Stuart Clemenson said to Shetland News: “it was unique to us at Police Scotland in that we don’t often come across this”.
“We took this up with our prevention and intervention people here in Shetland but also at the division for the Highlands and Islands, and also the national team”.
He also added that the police now have “a national document setting out the process” should they ever come across a situation like this again.
And luckily for Liam, the police warning that he was handed is now in the process of being taken off his record again.