Billy and Charlotte Caldwell. Image source.
If you are closely following the state of medical cannabis legalization efforts in the U.K., then you know Billy Caldwell. The 13-year-old boy who suffers from a severe form of epilepsy is practically the face of medical cannabis in the country. It was because of his case that the UK government had to do a legislative review, which eventually led to specialists being allowed to prescribe medical cannabis to qualified patients.
You can read about Billy’s story and how it contributed to the legalization of medical cannabis in the UK here:
- Charlotte and Billy Caldwell: The Mom-and-Son Team Fighting for Cannabis Legalization in the UK
- UK Gov’t allows Billy Caldwell to take medical cannabis home
- UK patients can now get cannabis prescription!
However, despite medical cannabis being made legal and accessible to qualified patients since late last year, Billy and his mother, Charlotte, were forced to fly to Canada in November because they could not find a doctor who was willing to prescribe the much-needed medication.
This is something that many other patients who need medical cannabis complain about. Medical cannabis may already be legal in the UK, but the very strict regulations are not making it easy for anyone. Due to the restrictions put in place, specialists are not willing to prescribe medical pot and accept responsibility for any risk and liability associated with the patients’ use of the drug.
But the good news is that, after three months of “exile” in Canada, Billy and Charlotte are back in the UK and the boy was finally given his first legal dose of medical marijuana. Cannabis is the only medication that effectively reduces Billy’s life-threatening seizures.
The mother-son pair landed at Heathrow Airport earlier this week and were able to pick up the medical cannabis from a pharmacy in Surrey after a doctor gave the prescription. The Department of Health assured the doctor that it was okay to write a prescription for the drug.
Charlotte Caldwell said that she had scoured the UK and Ireland for doctors who were willing to write them the prescription. According to her, she had lost count of how many phone calls she had made and e-mails she had sent, even when she was already in Canada.
Charlotte, who was emotional and overcome with joy, said that finally getting a prescription feels like she is getting out of jail.
Charlotte said that her son is probably the first person to be prescribed medical cannabis since the National Health Service legalized the drug. The NHS did allow Billy one prescription for cannabis in 2017, but the Home Office then banned the boy’s general practitioner from giving him more prescriptions.
Last year, when Billy and Charlotte tried to bring into the UK a fresh supply of medical marijuana from Canada, it was confiscated by customs. Charlotte then made an appeal through the media for her son’s medication to be returned and for medical cannabis to be legalized. The Caldwells’ case caused public uproar and put pressure on the Home Office. So, in a matter of hours, Home Secretary Sajid Javid ordered the release of some of Billy’s seized cannabis.
Because of this incident, the Home Office decided that it was time to review the scheduling of cannabis for therapeutic use. And to cut the long story short, medical cannabis was made legal.
Now, after having found a doctor willing to give them a prescription for the medication, Charlotte is overjoyed. According to her, for the first time, connections had been made between the doctors, the UK, and the medical cannabis experts in Canada. She said that it was a huge step forward for Billy and other patients in the UK.