Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland mum of epileptic boy faces arrest for flying home with medicinal cannabis

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

By Lisa Smyth

A Northern Ireland mum is facing arrest today as she flies into Heathrow Airport with medicinal cannabis she credits with saving her 12-year-old son's life.

Charlotte Caldwell is risking her own freedom in her fight for her son, Billy, to continue to receive the medication he needs to keep potentially deadly seizures at bay. It comes after Home Office officials warned her GP to stop prescribing the drug to the youngster.

Charlotte travelled to Canada last week with Billy, where he was assessed by doctors there and provided with medicinal cannabis. The mum, from Castlederg in Co Tyrone, said she will declare the fact she is carrying the medication to airport officials on their return from Toronto, who could arrest her, confiscate the drug, or allow her to continue on her return journey to Northern Ireland with the medicine.

Ahead of her eight-hour flight, she vowed she will continue in her campaign to allow doctors across the UK to be permitted to write NHS prescriptions for medicinal cannabis, regardless of any action taken against her.

"I am praying that airport staff will let us through with Billy's life-saving medicine," she said.

"I shouldn't have to break the law, but I would rather my son was illegally alive than legally dead.

"If I don't see to it that Billy has his medicine, I would be doing a disservice and would be party to assisting our government officials in signing his death warrant.

"Medicinal cannabis has given me back my right as a mummy to hope, but most importantly it has given Billy back his right to life.

"I am praying now that we can get medicinal cannabis accessible to all the other children, and give their mummies and daddies back their right to hope, but most importantly give their children back their right to life."

Billy was just a few months old when he first began to suffer from seizures and he was diagnosed with a severe and potentially fatal form of epilepsy.

Doctors in Belfast were unable to treat him and, over the years, Charlotte has travelled to America and England to get Billy life-saving treatment not available in Northern Ireland.

At times, Billy has suffered up to 100 seizures a day and Charlotte sleeps in the same bed with him, terrified that she will wake to find him dead.

She was forced to travel to Canada last week after officials warned her GP that he faced serious consequences if he continued to write prescriptions for medicinal cannabis.

Billy made history when he became the first person in the UK to be prescribed medicinal cannabis by the health service, and Charlotte's bold move presents a dilemma to the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, who will have to decide how to respond.

Belfast Telegraph


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