Belfast Telegraph

Home Office announces doctors can prescribe medicinal cannabis as Billy Caldwell celebrates 13th birthday

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

Doctors will be able to legally prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients in the UK, the Home Office has announced on the 13th birthday of Northern Ireland boy Billy Caldwell.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has decided to reschedule the products, relaxing the rules about the circumstances in which they can be given to patients, after considering expert advice from a specially commissioned review.

It follows several high profile cases, including that of young epilepsy sufferer Billy Caldwell from Northern Ireland, whose condition appears to be helped by cannabis oil.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory.

"That is why we launched a review and set up an expert panel to advise on licence applications in exceptional circumstances.

"Following advice from two sets of independent advisers, I have taken the decision to reschedule cannabis-derived medicinal products - meaning they will be available on prescription.

"This will help patients with an exceptional clinical need, but is in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use."

Billy Caldwell with mum Charlotte

Charlotte Caldwell, mother of Billy, said:  "It's over, it's unbelievable, incredible. It's been an eternity and the click of the fingers at the same time.

"For the first time in months I'm almost lost for words, other than 'thank-you Sajid Javid'.

"That the Home Secretary has announced that medicinal cannabis can now be prescribed by GPs on Billy's 13th birthday is amazing. I wonder if he knew? Never has Billy received a better birthday present, and never from somebody so unexpected.

“But since the start of my campaign I have always felt I had the Home Secretary’s support.

"He has moved with speed and compassion. Today’s announcement, particularly coming on Billy’s 13th birthday and on the day I get I get my possession licence, is welcome beyond words,  but it is now vital the medical world engages and commits to education and understanding.

"I hope with his announcement that responsibility for medicinal cannabis transfers from the Home Office to the Department of Health as advocated by Families 4 Access, which has been the voice for all the other children and families impacted by conditions similar to Billy's.

"It seems to have taken forever, but no-time as well. What my team has achieved - put in place and supported by philanthropist Paul Birch - cannot be under-estimated. They've progressively driven changes in the law and provided compelling persuasion and argument which the Home Secretary recognised as being the will of the people.

"We made more progress in six weeks than any UK government made in six decades.

"But, crucially, my little boy Billy can now live a normal life with his mummy because of the simple ability to now administer a couple of drops a day of a long-maligned but entirely effective natural medication."

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