Cannabis is going to be made legal in the UK on November 1. This post from Metro News turns the spotlight on the catalysts–the two high profile cases of medical cannabis helping epileptic children.
Doctors will be able to prescribe cannabis products to patients for conditions including epilepsy from November 1 after a change in the law.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced earlier this month that specialist doctors in England, Wales and Scotland, will be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis on a case-by-case basis.
The landmark reform came after two heartbreaking and high profile cases of medicinal cannabis helping children suffering from severe epilepsy – and how their mothers fought for them to take it in the UK.
Billy Cauldwell, 13
Medicinal cannabis campaigner Charlotte Caldwell spent years fighting for it to be legalised after discovering it helped treat her 13-year-old son, Billy.
Billy has epilepsy and before using cannabis oil, would suffer from a countless number of seizures every day.
Earlier this year Billy received national attention when his medicinal cannabis medication was confiscated by the Home Office at Heathrow Airport.
He was coming back from a trip to Canada to get a new supply of the medication.
It contains a substance called Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is illegal in the UK but available elsewhere.
It’s been a treasure just out of reach for what seems like forever
Hours after the cannabis oil was taken away from him, Billy suffered his first seizure in almost a year.
Billy was taken to hospital in a ‘life-threatening condition’ leading the Home Office to intervene and grant him a 20-day licence to administer the medicine.
He was later discharged with Ms Caldwell saying: ‘The fact that Billy has been discharged is testimony to the effectiveness of the treatment and underlines how vital it is that every child and every single family affected in our country should have immediate access to the very same medication.’
When it was announced that cannabis would be legal on the NHS on November 1, she said she had cried tears of joy.
‘It’s been a treasure just out of reach for what seems like forever, but to see it in writing from the Government is incredible,’ she said.
Alfie Dingley, six
In February, six-year-old Alfie, who also has epilepsy, was denied a request for a medicinal cannabis licence by the Government.
Alfie, from Kenilworth in Warwickshire, once had 3,000 seizures and 48 hospital visits in just one year.
In 2017, Alfie and his mum Hannah Deacon travelled to the Netherlands to take a cannabis-based medication prescribed by a paediatric neurologist.
Hannah said that after taking it, Alfie went 24 days without a seizure and that she had been told that with the cannabis medication, he would have just 20 seizures a year.
After his story broke the Government changed its stance, with the home secretary issuing a temporary licence for the drug to be administered in hospital.
As a family we were facing his death. Now we are facing his life
In July, the cannabis oil was allowed into the UK from Amsterdam.
At London City Airport, Hannah told reporters: ‘It (the medication) is very, very important for him to have a normal happy life so it’s a momentous occasion for us, his whole family and for him most importantly.’
On the day it was announced that cannabis would be made legal, Alfie’s mum urged the medical world to get behind the reform ‘so they can help the tens of thousands of people who are in urgent need of help’ she said.
‘I have personally seen how my son’s life has changed due to the medical cannabis he is now prescribed.
‘As a family we were facing his death. Now we are facing his life, full of joy and hope, which is something I wish for each and every person in this country who could benefit from this medicine.’
An initial review by chief medical adviser Dame Sally Davies concluded that there is evidence medicinal cannabis has therapeutic benefits.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), which carried out the second part of the review, then said doctors should be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis provided products meet safety standards.
It recommended cannabis-derived medicinal products should be placed in Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.
Cannabis has previously been classed as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it is thought to have no therapeutic value but can be used for the purposes of research with a Home Office licence.
Mr Javid said that to constitute a cannabis-based product for medicinal use, three requirements must be satisfied.
These are that it ‘needs to be a preparation or product which contains cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol or a cannabinol derivative; it is produced for medicinal use in humans and; is a medicinal product, or a substance or preparation for use as an ingredient of, or in the production of an ingredient of, a medicinal product’.