Belfast Telegraph

Government refuse to give back 'life-saving' cannabis oil for Northern Ireland boy Billy Caldwell

Billy Caldwell with his mother Charlotte
Billy Caldwell with his mother Charlotte

Home Office Minister Nick Hurd has refused to give potentially "life-saving" cannabis oil back to the mother of Northern Ireland boy Billy Caldwell.

The medication was confiscated from Charlotte Caldwell at Heathrow Airport earlier today.

Billy Caldwell, has epilepsy and requires medicinal cannabis oil to help prevent seizures, and his mother Charlotte Caldwell credits the treatment with saving his life. 

Following a meeting today with Home Office Minister Nick Hurd, Ms Caldwell said that discussions where ongoing to find a solution.

"We appreciate the opportunity to meet with the Minister. We had an open and honest conversation," she said.

"I asked him to return the meds which were confiscated at Heathrow this morning, and he said no.

"I then asked him to come up with a solution to address the situation and have been advised that I will get a response this afternoon during a meeting scheduled for 4:30pm."

Home Office officials have previously warned her GP to stop prescribing the drug to the youngster.

On Monday, Charlotte and Billy completed the trip back from Canada where he was assessed by doctors and provided with a prescription of medicinal cannabis.

Medication was confiscated when the mother and child arrived at Heathrow, as it is not certified for use in the UK.

"I'm just going to turn around and go get some more; and keep doing so until the UK authorities see sense. I take the view that I'd rather have my son illegally alive than legally dead. This is the scenario that the phrase 'no brainer' was invented for," said Charlotte Caldwell.

Dr Dan Poulter, Member of Parliament for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, who has been supporting the Caldwells, said: "The current law is ridiculous; there is growing evidence that cannabis products used medically can be helpful in treating a number of conditions, but yet is still seen through the prism of illegality here in the UK.

"It is simply inhumane that Billy's medication, which is legal in many other countries across the world, has been confiscated. This is bound to have a devastating effect on Billy and his family and I will continue to do all that I can to help bring about this much needed change in our law."

In a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, a spokesperson for the Home Office said it was "sympathetic to the difficult and rare situation that Billy and his family are faced with".

"Whilst we recognise that people with debilitating illnesses are looking to alleviate their symptoms, Border Force has a duty to stop banned substances from entering the UK. Ms Caldwell has therefore had cannabis oil seized this morning at Heathrow Airport upon landing from Canada," the spokesperson said.

Policing Minister Mike Penning will meet with Charlotte Caldwell on Monday to discuss treatment for Billy.

The spokesperson for the Home Office also noted that while it recognised people with debilitating illnesses wish to alleviate their symptoms, it had a responsibility to ensure drugs met rigorous testing standards.

Cannabis is listed as a schedule 1 drug in the United Kingdom and is not recognised as having any medicinal benefit, although this does not preclude it from being used in research and development providing a Home Office licence has been granted.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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