Belfast Telegraph

Politicians call for 'Billy's Law' in Northern Ireland

Cannabis treatment: Billy Caldwell
Cannabis treatment: Billy Caldwell

By Staff Reporter

The Co Tyrone mother of a teenager with epilepsy is calling for a new 'Billy's Law' to be introduced in Northern Ireland.

Charlotte Caldwell successfully led a campaign to get medicinal cannabis laws changed in Britain after her son Billy's medicine was confiscated at Heathrow Airport on June 11.

Now a cross-party group of politicians will gather at Stormont to push for the law to be changed here.

The Castlederg woman said that while families in Britain can expect to be seamlessly prescribed medicinal cannabis by specialist doctors, as announced by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, those here have to apply for several licences before they can receive the life-changing medication.

Ms Caldwell said: "Such decisions should be agreed by a Northern Irish Assembly, but as there is currently no government in Northern Ireland, the matter cannot be a devolved decision. But there is enormous support for what is being called 'Billy's Law' - bringing Northern Ireland medicinal cannabis policy in line with the rest of the UK.

"Therefore we are assembling a cross-party group of politicians, from local councillors through to senior MPs, who, for once, are all agreeing this should happen."

The group will gather at Stormont on Friday in a bid to highlight Billy's Law.

Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs, Sinn Fein MP Orfhlaith Begley, Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw and SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan are among the representatives who have indicated their support.

They will meet to agree on the content of a letter which has been drafted by Dr John Burton and calls on legislation here to be brought into line with other regions of the UK.

The elected officials will then be invited to sign the document, which will be delivered to the Home Office.

A spokesperson for the campaign expressed optimism that Mr Javid will pay attention to the "enormous support" in favour of implementing the changes here.

"It is vital that politicians from all parties express their support and when they do, I am confident that the UK Government will listen," they said.

A spokesman from the Department of Health said: "In the absence of an Executive, the department in consultation with legal advisers, continues to try and find a way forward on this very complex issue."

Belfast Telegraph


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