For Epilepsy sufferers medical cannabis can be just the lifeline they need to get them through the day. With many epilepsy patients reacting badly to the chemicals doctors prescribe to treat their condition, cannabis is a totally natural and effective option for those who want to take the organic route.
When Billy’s mother returned on a flight from Canada with some potent Cannabis oil in tow for her son, she was at her wits end when it was confiscated at customs…
Billy is as sweet as any 12-year-old boy in his class, but Billy is a little different. Having been born and bred in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, Billy suffers from a rare, severe form of epilepsy which makes just going to school a challenge.
Billy often suffered from hundreds of seizures a day, and that made life for him and his folks unbearable at times. But like any parent, Billy’s mom and was there for him and did what she needed to do to try to alleviate Billy’s pain and give him some quality of life.
While it still remains illegal in the U.K., cannabis has been shown to be able to treat people with a variety of conditions; one of those being epilepsy. While science isn’t yet 100 percent sure why cannabis offers the relief it does to patients, for kids like Billy questions like that are irrelevant as he needs to control his seizures as best he can.
Due to the fact that cannabis is illegal in the U.K. and in many countries in Europe, technically Billy isn’t allowed to take it as it’s a controlled substance. However, Billy is allergic to almost all of the epilepsy medication he was given by his doctors, and cannabis oil was the only thing that helped…
It took all the way until June of this year for someone to step in and offer Billy special dispensation for his cannabis oil. What’s more, it came from the very top, in the form of a special decree from British Home Secretary Sajid Javid. Moreover, Javid gave Billy Caldwell an “urgent license for the of use medicinal cannabis oil.
Billy’s mom Charlotte is sure that there is at least one person in the Home Office with a heart, “I truly believe that somewhere in the Home Office there’s someone with a heart, and I truly believe that Billy was pulling on their heartstrings,” she said…
Billy’s mother understandably feels passionately about the situation her son finds himself in. She told reporters of the terrible toll epilepsy has had on little Billy, saying his, “little body has been completely broken and his little mind.” Charlotte spoke in more detail about what her family have been through in recent years.
Children Are Dying
“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,” she said, “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. Children are dying in our country and it needs to stop now.”
For his part, Javid spoke to reporters about the situation with Billy, “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 said. But he noted that this was an exceptional case which required an “urgent solution.”
“My decision is based on the advice of senior clinicians who have made clear this is a medical emergency.” Javid said, adding, “The policing minister met with the family on Monday and since then has been working to reach an urgent solution.”
According to Barbara Zieniewicz, co-founder of campaign group Families4Access, who is a friend of the Caldwells and also traveled to Canada with them, Javid’s decision is nothing less than “triumphant,” “I strongly believe that this is the first push – from here, it’s a ripple effect. This means, to me, there is hope, not just for Billy, but for all the families that need it.” She said.
Back in 2017, Billy was actually prescribed cannabis oil by the National Health Service in the U.K. but that came to an end due to a new government directive. And that’s despite the fact that Billy epileptic seizures are severely reduced when he does take cannabis oil. There is relief out there for Billy and it grows naturally, but none of that seemed to matter…
Back To Hospital
When Charlotte’s attempt to bring a six-month supply of cannabis oil back to her home for Billy from Toronto, she was understandably devastated. A few days later and Billy was back in hospital, after his seizures intensified due to not having any cannabis oil.
Billy’s family doctor, Órfhlaith Begley, said that to his mind Javid’s decision to help Billy was “life-saving.” He said, “I will continue to engage with the Home Office and the health authorities to ensure he can access his medication in the longer term so there is no repeat of the trauma he has suffered over recent weeks.”
Duty of Government
The primary duty of any government has to be to protect its citizens and to offer them reasonable medical treatment where possible. As Dr. Amir Englund, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said: “Clearly, there is evidence that Billy’s medication works for him where others have failed. The duty of government is to protect its citizens from harm with regulations on medicines so that the ones doctors prescribe are safe and effective.”
Dr. Englund, an expert in his field, continued, “However, there are instances in which these measures become counterproductive and harmful. This is such an instance, and the Home Office should allow an exemption so that he does not come to further harm.”
There are many medical professionals who believe that cannabis should be available for the patients who need it. A clinical lecturer in psychiatry at University College London, Dr Michael Bloomfield, “Any ‘medical marijuana’ needs a scientific evidence base, in the form of medical trials et cetera, which is currently lacking for many disorders and has become, for many jurisdictions, a potential way of decriminalising cannabis through the back door.”
No More Delays
In a more recent development, Councillor Patricia Logue, a spokesperson for Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, said, “Today Charlotte and my party colleague Pat Sheehan MLA went to the Department of Health to seek clarity on an application for a license that would allow Charlotte to administer Billy’s medication.” That’s in line with her previous comments that there should be “no further delays” when it comes to Billy and his medication.
Logue added that, apart from Billy’s sensitive case, no one should have to go through the hoops of red tape that Charlotte has gone through for her son. “Today’s meeting was very useful in progressing Charlotte’s application and we would encourage the department to ensure there are no further unnecessary delays. We also call on the department to simplify the application process for other eligible patients and their families seeking appropriate licenses.” She said.
Thankfully, medical cannabis is becoming more popular as well as more widely available around the world. That’s in part thanks to states in the US which have legalized cannabis, both for medical and recreational use, with many countries in Europe following suit, albeit gradually. It is hoped that kids like Billy will enjoy a bright future, and will get all the help they need when it comes to the right medication.