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Billy Caldwell's mum welcomes government cannabis review: We're on threshold of making history

By Jonathan Bell

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced a review into the use of cannabis-based medicines in the UK, which could lead to their re-scheduling and pave the way for doctors to issue prescriptions for treatments.

He said the current situation - highlighted by the Billy Caldwell case - demonstrated how it was "not satisfactory" for parents or doctors.

The Government minister was giving a statement in the House of Commons on the issue of drug licensing on Tuesday.

Billy's mum Charlotte welcomed the move.

"We are on the threshold of the next chapter of the history book," she said.

Sitting alongside the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, he stressed the move was "in no way a first step" to legalise cannabis for recreational use. He said the penalties for unauthorised supply and procession of the drug would remain unchanged.

The Home Secretary intervened over the weekend to allow Northern Ireland boy Billy access to life-saving treatment for severe epileptic seizures. His mother Charlotte had the drugs confiscated when she tried to return from Canada last week. Billy (12) was later rushed to hospital after taking seizures.

Mr Javid said cases like Billy's and others demonstrated a need to "look closely" at the provision of cannabis-based medicines in the UK.

He said his actions in issuing an emergency measure was "unprecedented".

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott welcomed the announcement, asking if Billy Caldwell would be allowed access to his remaining medication. Mr Javid said his officials were working with the family.

Mr Javid said that while the medicinal benefits of cannabis was not recognised in law, the review would consider the evidence presented by clinicians. The review would be broken into two parts.

The first part would consider the benefits of multiple cannabis-based medicines which would put forward potential treatments for consideration in part two, which would provide an assessment of which, if any, would be re-scheduled for public use.

He said that while the process would take time, cases would be considered on an individual basis by an expert panel, as announced on Monday.

He added: "As a father I know there is nothing worse than seeing your child suffer. You would do anything to take away their pain. That is what I have the utmost sympathy for Billy Caldwell, Alfie Dingley and others.

"I will do everything in my power to make sure we have a system that works to make sure these children and their parents have access to the best possible medical treatment."

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