England and Medical Cannabis: Are We Seeing a Change of Heart?

England and Medical Cannabis

England and Medical Cannabis: England will allow the prescription of medical cannabis for extreme cases within a fortnight.

This is major news which could mark a turning point for cannabis legalization in the country, that until now has been rigid in its stance against the substance. But what has happened?

A panel of experts led by Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael McBride, has been drafted in by the government in light of the controversy which surrounded a 12-year old boy named Billy Caldwell. This panel is to “sign-off” on medical applications from senior physicians to supply medical marijuana treatment to patients in extreme circumstances and “will ensure patients get the best treatment based on medical evidence”. 

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England and Medical Cannabis – Billy Caldwell

This issue was brought into focus when last Monday Charlotte Caldwell – Billy’s mother, was stopped at Heathrow Airport when she tried to bring cannabis oil into the county. Her son Billy Caldwell had been receiving cannabis oil to treat his epilepsy condition since 2016. His mother began routinely making trips to North America in order to procure the oil. However, Charlotte was stopped at Heathrow Airport on her latest trip and British authorities seized Caldwell’s medication which sent Billy into a “cascade of seizures” requiring emergency attention.

Cannabis oil was the only effective treatment of Billy’s seizures (which used to afflict him nearly 100 times a day).

Patients are Suffering

Patients who could benefit greatly from cannabinoid therapies have little-to-no access to medical cannabis in England. Medical marijuana has been proven to dramatically help users in markets like Canada, California, and Colorado where it is legal.

The discussion for legalization has been at the fore across Europe, as more and more US states have approved medical marijuana in recent months. Canada itself went another step further last week; it legalized recreational marijuana which will come into effect in October.

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Responding to the controversy, in two weeks doctors in England will be able to order cannabis medicines on an emergency basis. An issue with this however, is that doctor’s will reportedly be liable for the outcomes of the treatments prescribed. This begs the question, how many physicians are willing to risk that? Especially as British doctors aren’t generally trained in the endocannabinoid system. Also, to be considered, patients must show “exceptional clinical need” and no other medication must be available as an alternative.

With more and more public demands for the medical cannabis legalization, it’s hopeful that this may be the first step in a right direction. 

Featured Image: GoogleImages/Telegraph