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New cannabis laws 'disappointing' says Billy Caldwell's mother



Charlotte Caldwell with son Billy

Charlotte Caldwell with son Billy

Charlotte Caldwell with son Billy

The mother of Co Tyrone teenager Billy Caldwell - a leading campaigner for a rule change on the legality of medicinal cannabis in the UK - has expressed disappointment at new legislation introduced on Thursday.

Patients can be prescribed the products through specialist hospital doctors if they are determined to have an "unmet clinical need".

Billy (13), from Castlederg, was in the headlines earlier this year when medicinal cannabis was confiscated from him and his mother Charlotte on a return trip from Canada. He suffers from a severe form of epilepsy, the symptoms of which  can be treated with medicinal cannabis.

After returning from Canada in June, Billy was admitted to hospital with seizures his mother said were "life threatening".

A short time after this the Home Office granted permission for him to receive the cannabis-based medication.

Reacting to Thursday's rule change, Mrs Caldwell said it was not "job done".

"As it stands, my wee lad Billy would not be able to get a repeat prescription for his medicine in the UK, and it would be very likely if we left the country and came back with a repeat prescription then it would be confiscated at Heathrow again," she said.

"As a mummy who has seen her wee boy go through hell and back, a great deal of hope and belief has gone out the window. There's lots of patients will be extremely disappointed this morning and for a good few weeks or months ahead.

"But promises were made by politicians this summer, and we have to make sure the policymakers keep those promises."

Mrs Caldwell added it was necessary for politicians to realise there are certain conditions which can only be treated with medicinal cannabis.

Blair Gibbs, the policy head for the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis - which campaigned for the return of Billy's medicine during the summer - said the process had "moved incredibly fast", but that there was still progress which needed to be made.

Belfast Telegraph