Mother's plea as son's marijuana prescription stops

The mother of a severely epileptic boy who was the UK's first patient to receive marijuana legally on the NHS is to lobby MPs this week after the Government halted his prescription.

Sunday, 20th May 2018, 6:49 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:36 am
Undated handout photo issued by Charlotte Caldwell of her son Billy, 11, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, who has a form of epilepsy meaning he cannot get help through medication or diet. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Billy Caldwell, 11, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, has a form of the condition meaning he cannot get help through medication or diet.

He used to suffer up to 100 seizures a day until he began treatment with cannabis oil in the US, where medical marijuana is legal, in 2016.

In Northern Ireland, he became the first person in the UK to receive a prescription after his local GP Brendan O’Hare began writing scripts.

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The doctor was summoned to a meeting with Home Office officials recently and told to desist.

Billy’s mother, Charlotte, is meeting MPs and speaking at a conference on medicinal cannabis use in London this week.

A family spokesman said medicinal cannabis use was being adopted around the world, but not in the UK: “There are many forms of epilepsy and particular ones are immune to treatment apart from cannabis.

“She (Mrs Caldwell) cannot contain her son’s seizures without access to it.”

Charlotte Caldwell has said Billy has been free of the debilitating episodes for a considerable period since the treatment.

SDLP Foyle Stormont Assembly member Mark H Durkan said: “I am appalled that the Home Office have reacted so heavy-handedly to a very sensitive and high profile case.

“It has been clear from the start that Billy’s GP has issued this treatment in good faith to save a young boy’s life, not to open the floodgates to inappropriate drug use.”