Epilepsy warrior Billy Caldwell has started his epic road trip across Ireland and the UK in a battle to have medicinal cannabis legalised.
The 12-year-old and his mum, Charlotte, visited Stormont today and will travel to the Dail in Dublin, the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, the Welsh Parliament in Cardiff and finally London and the Palace of Westminster.
The 1,000 mile journey is planned to raise awareness about the benefits of medicinal cannabis.
Billy, from Castlederg, Co Tyrone, was the first person to be prescribed medicinal cannabis on the NHS and is now the face of Billy’s Bud.
He lives with a rare life-threatening form of epilepsy, and his mother says the drug saved his life.
Speaking at Stormont today Charlotte said: “I am ever so proud we stand here united on Billy’s Law, Legalisation of Medicinal Cannabis.
“A very special thank you to John Finucane, highly experienced and very well respected legal counsel, author of Billy’s Law, for all his hard work. His work means we are able to hand over our draft bill proposal about legalising cannabis.
“I would like to remember three great statesmen who inspired me as I fought for Billy and now for other people.
“John Hume, Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley – bravery, selflessness and heroism amongst all three.
“I am sure anyone of you could tell us stories of how John, Martin and Ian were willing to sacrifice their daily lives day in, day out, year after year to bring peace and prosperity to our people.
“John Hume told us, ‘Let’s work together and build together, and as we do that, the real solution will begin’.
“Martin McGuinness told us, ‘There will be no return to the status quo’.
“And Ian Paisley, told us: ‘The gloves are off we’re taking no more nonsense from anybody’.
“Let me be clear, the UK and Ireland now have a chance to improve the financial well-being of the NHS and the HSE, but most importantly improve the wellbeing of the people.
“Billy’s Bud was created as part of a much bigger campaign for patients requiring quality CBD and Medicinal Cannabis.
“The objective of this is not about Billy or Billy’s Bud. Billy just happens to be the face that people recognise.
“Billy has survived due to the enormous help he received in the UK, Ireland and America from many, many people.
“It is now our turn to try help other people that currently need this medicine.
“If we help to build broken families, broken bodies, broken minds and broken childhoods with a regulatory frame work then we have achieved the ultimate goal.
“Medicinal cannabis must be legalised for our loved ones who desperately need it.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Health, Pat Sheehan MLA said: “Sinn Féin’s support for medicinal cannabis will always be based on clinical evidence.
“We support the use of medicinal cannabis by patients where it is medically recommended.
“Any draft legislation on cannabis to be considered for Ireland – north or south – must be robust, clear, rooted in clinical evidence and available for medical use only.
“I commend the efforts of Charlotte and Billy Caldwell, and others like them, who are campaigning for legislation on the use of cannabis for medical purposes and I wish them the best on their road trip across Ireland and Britain.”
And the Green Party also pledged support.