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Monday, June 18, 2018

Time to legalise cannabis for medical use

The decision by the Home Secretary to back down over the refusal to release medicinal cannabis oil that it had confiscated from the family of a severely epileptic boy is extraordinary because for the first time it reverses decades of obstinacy by the UK Government over the issue of legalising the use of cannabis for medical conditions.

Sajid Javid said he had used an exceptional power as home secretary to issue a licence for Billy Caldwell to be treated with the oil as a matter of urgency after Billy’s cannabis oil was confiscated at Heathrow on Monday. It contains a psychoactive substance called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that is illegal in the UK but available elsewhere, and had kept his epilepsy at bay.

I have argued the case for legalising cannabis for medicinal use on this blog previously. The case of Billy Caldwell however brings that debate into sharp relief and offers some hope that the Government may now be listening. Billy's mother certainly hopes that is the case.

As the Guardian reports, she has called for a meeting with the home and health secretaries to talk about making medical cannabis legal for children who have similar conditions to her son:

Charlotte Caldwell said it was “absolutely horrific” and “cruel” that 12-year-old Billy had been refused cannabis oil after Home Office officials confiscated a six-month supply. She is seeking a discussion on the issue with Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt.

She added that his condition was now beginning to improve after being allowed to have some of the treatment on licence.

Caldwell said: “I want to meet the home secretary and health secretary, urgently, this week, to get assurance that not only will Billy’s meds never again be removed, but to call for an urgent review of the overall policy on medical cannabis as it affects everyone who could benefit.”

Surely now is the time for the government to bring in this much needed reform.
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