Published: Sun, June 17, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Epileptic boy to be given cannabis treatment previously banned by Home Office

Epileptic boy to be given cannabis treatment previously banned by Home Office

12-year-old Billy, who suffers from severe epileptic seizures, was rushed to a hospital in London on Friday after medicine containing cannabis oil that he had been using was confiscated from his mother when she tried to bring it into the United Kingdom from Canada.

Billy's oil contains a small amount of THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis which is banned in the United Kingdom, but taking an entire bottle's 100 doses would not create any kind of psychedelic effect, so low is the concentration.

The Home Office, or interior ministry, could not immediately be reached for comment about Billy's hospitalisation.

Ms Caldwell, of Castlederg in Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland, had seven bottles confiscated at Heathrow Airport customs on June 11 after she brought them in from Toronto.

Billy’s medication was seized when they returned to the UK. Pic PA Wire
Billy’s medication was seized when they returned to the UK. Pic PA Wire

The oil had been prescribed to 12-year-old Billy by doctors in Canada.

On Saturday, the British Home Office confirmed it was returning Billy's cannabis oil medication.

But Dr O'Hare was summoned to a meeting with Home Office officials recently and told to stop.

"This is a very complex situation, but our immediate priority is making sure Billy receives the most effective treatment possible in a safe way", he added.

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Speaking outside the hospital before the Home Office decision yesterday, Caldwell said: "Unfortunately, Billy had two more seizures overnight which has pushed him more into a crisis situation".

He said: "I genuinely don't understand why we see. medicinal cannabis through the prism of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs legislation, when actually this is a medical issue, it's not a prohibition of drugs issue, and that's what's got to change".

The emergency measure allowed for one to be returned and Ms Caldwell reported an improvement in her son's condition after taking the drug, but when this runs out a new application will have to be made for a licence. He said his decision was based on advice from senior doctors who say that Caldwell, who was hospitalized overnight in London, faces a medical emergency.

But she added: "My experience leaves me in no doubt that the Home Office can no longer play a role in the administration of medication for sick children in our country".

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Keen to get back to her son's bedside, she said: "I am full of hope - this is my little boy's anti-epilepsy medication".

"No other family should have to go through this sort of ordeal, travelling halfway around the world to get medication which should be freely available to our desperately ill children", she said.

"As a doctor, I can prescribe opioids and benzodiazepines to my patients, (which are illegal as street drugs) but thanks to the current law, I am unable to prescribe medicinal cannabis products to the patients who need them, despite an increasingly compelling medical case to allow me to do so".

He became the first person in the United Kingdom to receive a prescription after his local GP in Northern Ireland, Brendan O'Hare, began writing scripts.

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A family spokesman said the Home Office has released the medicinal cannabis oil, which is now on its way to the hospital.

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