U.K. to Review Medical Cannabis Laws Following Outrage Over Epilepsy Case

U.K. to Review Medical Cannabis Laws Following Outrage Over Epilepsy Case

by Chris Moore
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HEALTH
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The highly-publicized case of Billy Caldwell, who nearly died after authorities seized his CBD medicine, may mark the start of legal medical marijuana reform in Great Britain.

Photo via Maurice

The recent story of an epileptic child whose medicine was seized and then returned by customs officials has convinced the U.K. government to take a fresh look at their prohibition of medical cannabis. Last week, British authorities seized a supply of CBD oil that Charlotte Caldwell imported from Canada to treat her son Billy's intractable epilepsy, only to return it this week after the child was hospitalized with life-threatening seizures.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who used an “exceptional power” of his office to grant Caldwell a temporary license to use CBD medicine as a short-term emergency treatment, said that the case has prompted him to review their policies prohibiting the use of all forms of medical cannabis. Javid stated that this instance clearly illustrated that there is “a pressing need to allow those who might benefit from cannabis based products to access them,” the Associated Press reports.

At a cabinet meeting on Monday, Javid said that the review “was absolutely urgent, it’s moving very fast,” an anonymous cabinet minister told the Guardian. “But [Prime Minister Theresa May] said this is not what this meeting is about. There’s quite a lot of support for changing the rules on it as well. It’s all quite hot to handle.” The Home Office was unable to confirm whether a review was officially in the works, but only that it was under consideration.

U.K. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he felt that children like Billy Caldwell should be legally allowed to use CBD-based medicine: “I don’t think anyone who followed that story could sensibly say that we are getting the law on this kind of thing right.” When asked whether or not the U.K. would fail to legalize the use of these oils in the near future, he answered, “I sincerely hope not.”

The Prime Minister has remained considerably less enthusiastic about the prospect of legal medical cannabis. “Do we need to look at these cases and consider what we’ve got in place? Yes,” she said, the Guardian reports. “But what needs to drive us in all these cases has to be what clinicians are saying about these issues. There’s a very good reason why we’ve got a set of rules around cannabis and other drugs, because of the impact that they have on people’s lives, and we must never forget that.”

Javid clarified that the government still had “absolutely no plans” to decriminalize recreational marijuana use, but other British politicians believe the time has come for full legalization. “Everyone sitting in a Whitehall conference room needs to recognize that, out there, cannabis is ubiquitous, and issuing orders to the police to defeat its use is about as up-to-date and relevant as asking the Army to recover the Empire,” said former British Foreign Secretary William Hague. “This battle is effectively over.”


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Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.


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