The British government will officially review the legal use of medicinal cannabis, Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced, following the heated political debate surrounding the confiscation of medicinal cannabis oil from 12-year-old Billy Caldwell’s mother at Heathrow airport earlier this month—cannabis oil necessary to treat Billy’s epilepsy.
The review could lead to patients being prescribed drugs made from the plant. While Javid stressed the drug would remain banned for recreational use, he admitted the current situation is “not satisfactory”. Speaking to the House of Commons, he said the case of Billy Caldwell and subsequently that of six-year-old Alfie Dingley had sparked the review.
After an impassioned fight from Caldwell’s mother Charlotte, Billy was granted a 20-day licence for the drug last week when doctors made clear it was a medical emergency. Charlotte’s plea was just the latest in a long fight for treatment for Billy that saw his six-month supply of the oil seized by UK Customs officials upon the pair’s arrival at Heathrow airport. He was taken by ambulance to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital just four days later, with the return of his “life-threatening” seizures. Charlotte welcomed the “positive” announcement but added “we still want to hear the details”.
The review, held in two parts, would first make recommendations on which cannabis-based medicines might offer real medical and therapeutic benefits to patients, with the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs also considering changes to the classification of these products after assessing “the balance of harms and public health needs”.
Speaking in the @HouseofCommons, Home Secretary @sajidjavid has announced a review into the scheduling of cannabis for medicinal purposes. pic.twitter.com/iKNDUHdrK5
— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) June 19, 2018
Professor Stevens, a member of the advisory council, said families were suffering “due to the government’s refusal to allow the use of medicines derived from cannabis.” Stevens said the government was worried the reforms could “be used as a wedge to drive through wider reforms on cannabis”.