Remember Billy Caldwell? Here’s an update to his story: UK’s Home Office has allowed him to go home with his medical cannabis.
The Home Office has granted Billy a special exemption license, allowing the 12-year-old boy, who suffers from severe epilepsy, to go home with his cannabis medication.
It can be recalled that early last month, Billy’s supply of cannabis oil from Canada was confiscated by authorities at Heathrow airport. Customs took away all seven bottles of the cannabis oil, which is six months’ worth of supply.
Billy’s mother, Charlotte, had publicly pleaded for Billy’s medication to be returned. According to her, cannabis oil is the only thing that effectively reduces her son’s seizures.
Following the confiscation and with the absence of his medication, the boy’s seizures had intensified and he was admitted to a hospital in London. Billy’s worsened condition led to Home Secretary Sajid Javid granting the Caldwells a 20-day emergency license.
With this, the Home Office released 20 days’ worth of cannabis oil to Charlotte in order to stop Billy’s seizures. More specifically, they returned only one bottle of cannabis oil and under the condition that the boy can only take it in the hospital and not take it home.
Charlotte called for the Home Office to return the other six bottles of cannabis oil. In fact, she asked to meet with Javid and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt in order to discuss the review of the government’s policy on medical cannabis.
Billy can go home with his medical cannabis
According to a spokesman for the Caldwells, the Home Office, as well as the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, already agreed that Billy can go home to Northern Ireland with his medical cannabis.
Billy and Charlotte live in Castlederg in Co Tyron, Nortern Ireland.
He said that the Department of Health in Northern Ireland are applying for a license for the boy’s medication to be administered at home.
Review of medical cannabis applications
In the wake of the controversy and public uproar resulting from the confiscation of Billy’s cannabis oil, the UK government set up a panel of experts to assess claims and applications for medical cannabis licenses.
The Home Office announced that the new panel will make fast recommendations to ministers, who will be signing off on these applications in two to four weeks.
Doctors will have to show the panel that there is an exceptional clinical need for their patients to use cannabis and that no other medication would be suitable. They would also need to accept full responsibility for the liability and risks involved in their patients’ use of medical cannabis.
Once an application is approved, doctors can then begin writing prescriptions for the patient.
The panel is a temporary solution while Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies conducts a review into whether marijuana should be made available for medicinal purposes.
The government will also be reviewing how much the National Health Service must pay for a license. The license currently stands at £3,655. According to the Home Office, patients and their families won’t need to contribute to the cost.
Policing minister Nick Hurd pointed out that the panel will make sure that the patients get to avail of the best treatment based on medical evidence.