Why UK Children Are Still Denied Medicinal Cannabis

Why UK Children Are Still Denied Medicinal Cannabis
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In the autumn of 2018, the doors to legal, medical cannabis use in the UK swung open, with the rescheduling of ‘cannabis-based medicinal products’ (CBMPs) from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations. After nearly fifty years of leaving sick patients dependent on an illicit cannabis market, this felt like a landmark decision that would finally enable clinicians to prescribe CBMPs and expand much-needed cannabis research. The change in law came about in response to the medical needs of two children with severe drug-resistant epilepsy, Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, and the tireless campaigning of their mothers to ensure their access to cannabis medicines.

Travelling to countries with more liberal cannabis laws, Hannah Deacon and Charlotte Caldwell found neurologists willing to prescribe medical cannabis and witnessed a profound transformation in their sons’ quality of life, with seizures reducing from up to 100 a day to going multiple weeks seizure-free. Wanting to return home and continue with their prescriptions, they launched a high profile media campaign, bringing national attention to their children’s plight. Denied their medicine back in the UK, both children’s dramatic deterioration in health made headline news, their dependence on this medicine clear for everyone to see. The Home Secretary was forced to respond compassionately, and cannabis-based medicinal products were rescheduled there and then. This response generated high expectations amongst the patient community. Families and carers of children with severe epilepsy felt sure that they would finally get cannabis prescriptions on the National Health Services (NHS). If Alfie, and later Billy, had got one, surely they could get one too. But sadly, this has not been the case. What Went Wrong? We sat down with Hannah Deacon to get a closer look at what’s really going on in the UK for kids with…

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