Dawn Of A New Era For Medical Cannabis In The UK?

UK medicinal cannabis review
Image: Sajid Javid

The attention drawn to the case of young epilepsy sufferer Billy Caldwell has forced the UK Government’s hand – it has announced a review on medical cannabis.

Last week we mentioned Billy Caldwell was experiencing up to 100 seizures a day until he started being administered a specific blend of cannabis oil. His mother had a prescription for Billy, but that was later revoked. In desperation and with medicine running out, Billy’s mother travelled to Canada and attempted to bring it into the UK, but the medicine was confiscated at Heathrow Airport. After 300 days seizure-free, Billy was soon admitted to hospital as his seizures returned.

After a huge amount of media attention and pressure from the public, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid then granted a license to enable Billy Caldwell to be treated with cannabis oil again.

The situation has evolved into one much bigger than Billy.

Yesterday, Mr. Javid announced a review into the scheduling of cannabis for medicinal purposes, which will be carried out by the Home Office and Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies. If is determined medical cannabis provides significant medical and therapeutic benefits, then its expected it will be rescheduled for medicinal use.

“No parent can stand by and watch their children suffer. I will do all in my power to ensure they don’t have to. That’s why I’ve launched review on the medical uses of cannabis,” tweeted Mr. Javid.

The Home Secretary also announced that a license will be granted another high-profile young epilepsy patient – Alfie Dingley – for access to the cannabis medicine he requires.

Earlier this week, former Home Office Minister Sir Mike Penning announced that if Alfie Dingley did not receive medication by Wednesday, a delegation from the House would get it for him.

There are many more Billys and Alfies in the UK – and no doubt families of such patients will be watching proceedings closely. There’s also now more hope for others suffering from a wide range of conditions that medical cannabis could potentially help.

Policing Minister Nick Hurd says an expert panel of clinicians will also be established to advise ministers on any applications from senior clinicians to prescribe cannabis-based medicines, which is expected to start considering applications within a week.