Belfast Telegraph

Tyrone mum applauds move by Government to review the medicinal use of cannabis

By Andrew Woodcock

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has announced a review of the medicinal use of cannabis which could lead to patients in the UK being prescribed drugs derived from the banned plant.

Mr Javid announced the move to the House of Commons in the wake of a series of appeals from parents who want their children to be able to access medications which can alleviate epilepsy and other illnesses.

The Home Secretary announced that he had authorised a licence to be issued for six-year-old Alfie Dingley, after his mother said she had been waiting three months for Prime Minister Theresa May to fulfil a personal assurance that he would be allowed to receive cannabis oil.

Mr Javid stressed to the Commons that the Class B drug would remain banned for recreational use.

He told MPs that the review would be held in two parts.

The first, led by chief medical officer Sally Davies, will make recommendations on which cannabis-based medicines might offer patients real medical and therapeutic benefits.

In the second part of the review, The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs will consider whether changes should be made to the classification of these products on an assessment of "the balance of harms and public health needs".

"If the review identifies significant medical benefits, then we do intend to reschedule," Mr Javid said.

But he insisted: "This Government has absolutely no plans to legalise cannabis and the penalties for unauthorised supply and possession will remain unchanged."

Alfie's mother said she had been "overwhelmed" by the Home Secretary's announcement and added she hoped it would be easier to access cannabis medication in the future, saying it would be "madness" for sufferers to miss out.

Hannah Deacon said she also wanted the Government to make it easier to do research into the medical properties of the plant.

She said: "Hopefully we will have a more forward-thinking way of doing things in this country and medicinal cannabis will hopefully, in five or 10 years time, be the norm.

The announcement of the review came just days after Mr Javid permitted the use of cannabis oil to treat 12-year-old Castlederg boy Billy Caldwell, who had been admitted to hospital with seizures after supplies his mother had brought from Canada were confiscated.

Billy's mother Charlotte described it as "amazing news" which she "applauded".

She said: "Today, a few moments ago in the House of Commons, the Government commissioned a full review of medicinal cannabis. While clearly largely positive, we still want to hear the detail from the mouths of the Home Secretary and the Health Secretary who was sitting next to him when he made the statement.

"At every stage of this campaign we have mentioned making history and we have mentioned it because it is common sense.

"The power of the mothers and fathers of sick children has bust the political process wide open and it is on the verge of changing thousands of lives by bringing cannabis laws in line with many other countries.

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

Ms Caldwell said she wanted to meet with both the Home and Health Secretaries.

Billy's case provoked calls for a change in the law, with former Conservative leader Lord Hague urging ministers to consider full legalisation of the drug.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the Conservative peer said the war on cannabis had been "comprehensively and irreversibly lost".

He said it was time to consider legalising the substance for recreational as well as medicinal use.

But he was slapped down by the Home Office, which replied: "Any debate within Government about the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of cannabis-based medicines does not extend to any review regarding the classification of cannabis and the penalties for the illicit possession, cultivation and trafficking of cannabis will remain the same."

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