The mother of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell has slammed UK authorities as “criminals” for confiscating medical cannabis which is vital for keeping her son’s potentially deadly epileptic seizures at bay.
The cannabis oil was taken off Charlotte Caldwell at Heathrow airport on Monday morning. Charlotte had traveled, along with Billy, to the Canadian city of Toronto last week to stock up on the oil. Without the medicine, which is now running out, her son was having up to 100 seizures a day.
Speaking at a press conference at Heathrow, Charlotte explained what had happened to her and declared her intention to continue fighting for her son’s “right” to have the medicine he needs.
Asked about the confiscation at a press conference, Charlotte said: “It’s a very sad day.
“It’s one thing actually not giving a child a medicine [they need], but it’s something very different when you actually take the medicine away from a child that doesn’t already have it. It’s actually criminal to do that,” Charlotte argued.
When asked what she would do if she failed to get the supply back, she said: “I’ll just go back to Canada and I’ll get more and I’ll bring it back again,” before stressing: “This is his anti-epileptic medication, that’s all it is.”
Billy made history when he became the first in the UK to be prescribed the medical cannabis. He began treatment with cannabis in the United States, where medical cannabis is partially legal, in 2016.
The prescription was then handed on to the family’s doctor in Northern Ireland, Brendan O’Hare. However the doctor recently had to tell Charlotte he would no longer be able to prescribe the drug after having been blocked to do so by the Home Office upon the threat of being struck off.
Ahead of her eight-hour flight to Canada, Charlotte, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, said: “I shouldn’t have to break the law, but I would rather my son was illegally alive than legally dead. If I don’t see to it that Billy has his medicine, I would be doing a disservice and would be party to assisting our government officials in signing his death warrant.”
According to the Daily Mail, one of the doctors who visited Billy in Toronto said he had at least ten other British patients in analogous situations.
“I have no doubt this is an effective drug,” he said. “A couple of years ago, lots of my colleagues did not agree with prescribing it but now they are referring patients to me and telling their families to come here for treatment.”
It comes as after an all-party parliamentary committee (APPG) heard from four MPs, who are also doctors, arguing for the legalization of cannabis for medical use. If approved, it would be the first step towards Britain’s complete legalization of the drug.
While the Greens and the Liberal Democrats are enthusiastic about a regulated cannabis market, the two main parties, the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party, are yet to be swayed. The Home Office recently said that it has no plans to legalize the drug. The government argues that legalizing cannabis “would send the wrong message to the vast majority of people who do not take drugs.”
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