One 12-year-old might change the UK's stance
Pressure is mounting to legalise medicinal marijuana in the United Kingdom. The issue was raised, unsuccessfully, in the UK Parliament resulting in a government response sticking to their guns and stating their position as including the “substantial scientific evidence” that cannabis can harm and damage human health.
The subject will be debated again in parliament to establish whether, in light of a recent outcry from the public, marijuana should be partially legalised for medicinal purposes.
FACTOne issue brought the subject to the fore in the UK : The mother of a boy suffering from severe epilepsy.
Called for an urgent meeting with the UK Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt, to discuss liberalizing British policy. She credited the drug with keeping him seizure-free for the almost past 10 months. Without the cannabis oil he had been prescribed and obtained overseas, Billy’s seizures returned and the 12-year-old was fighting for his life in a hospital. Home Secretary Sajid Javid has intervened personally for the partial return of Billy Caldwell’s anti-epileptic medicine after it was confiscated from his mother, at Heathrow airport.
Charlotte Caldwell, the mother concerned, wanted assurances from the government that they would provide an adequate supply of cannabis oil for her 12-year-old son, Billy. The concern is to ensure that the medical cannabis he needs will be available after the 20-day emergency supply approved by the government runs out. Ms. Caldwell, clearly shell shocked by the attention the case has garnered wants to avoid “another battle” over the medicine that has stopped the potentially life-threatening seizures for her son.
Confiscated at the airport
Ms. Caldwell was on her way back from Canada when Billy’s medicine was confiscated. She had been forced to travel overseas to the country, in which medical marijuana is freely available, to buy 7 bottles of cannabis oil. Medical marijuana is still illegal in the UK and, according to the law the Home Office stopped the GP’s prescription for Billy.
However, even after Sajid Javid’s intervention, only one of the seven bottles was released. The other six bottles were left at the Home Office.
Ms. Caldwell called yesterday for the rest of the medication to be returned to her son. Her son’s doctors told her that even the full return of the drug would be good for just eight weeks.
Legalization of medical marijuana gains support
SCIENCEBilly’s (the boy) condition improved after he was treated with the first bottle of the oil at Chelsea and Westminster hospital.
Billy is just one of around a third of the 63,400 children with epilepsy across the UK, that do not positively respond to the medication currently prescribed by the NHS to ameliorate their symptoms. That’s why a growing number of families are demanding the right for their children to access cannabis medicine.
Research also shows an increasing body of evidence proving that cannabis medicine can be an effective treatment for epilepsy, particularly since the side-effects of traditional anti-epileptic medicines can be debilitating.
MPs from across the UK political spectrum are now calling on the government to legalise medicinal cannabis and to update laws that were based on “outdated claims” questioning the plant’s medicinal value.
UK exports medicinal cannabis for epilepsy
FACTSome countries are still extremely strict when it comes to the use of cannabis. Most are in Asia.
Surprisingly, the UK is the world’s largest producer of medicinal cannabis and the country exports huge numbers of anti-epileptic medications to foreign markets.
According to Caroline Lucas, the co-chair of the parliamentary group for drug policy reform, it will surprise many “people to learn that Britain is one of the largest producers and exporters of medicinal cannabis – yet we have extreme laws which prevent people here from feeling the benefits of these drugs.”
British Sugar, whose managing director is married to the drugs minister Victoria Atkins, grows much of the 65 tonnes of cannabis in greenhouses across the country. Cannabis is one of the key ingredients in the pharmaceutical drugs produced by GW Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company. The investment relationship manager of Capital Group, a main investor in GW Pharmaceuticals is Theresa May’s husband.
Relatives of some government ministers have also admitted using cannabis oil to treat chronic pain.
Home secretary announces the review of medicinal cannabis
Javid told the House of Commons on June 19 that he was launching a review into how marijuana is regulated in UK medicines. The announcement gives hope to the many thousands who are suffering from ailments resistant to current drug regimes.
However, Sajid Javid ruled out legalising cannabis for recreational use at this stage. He emphasized that the review is “in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use.”
He added that the “government has absolutely no plans to legalise cannabis and the penalties for unauthorised supply and possession will remain unchanged.”
The review intends to find if there are significant medical and therapeutic benefits so that cannabis could be rescheduled for medicinal use.
FACTThere are very few places in the world where the use of cannabis is totally free and uncontrolled.
While it’s true that marijuana when used for recreational reasons has downsides, it also, clearly has medicinal properties that can’t be matched by other prescription drugs and which are extremely valuable to some patients. Since various studies worldwide have confirmed these properties of marijuana, the UK seems destined to legalise medicinal cannabis.