Billy Caldwell cannabis oil battle unites Northern Ireland politicians
It is now long overdue for the UK to make a permanent and compassionate decision on the use of medicinal cannabis oil, the Ulster Unionists have said.
Roy Beggs MLA is one of a number of politicians to support changing laws surrounding medical marijuana after a severely epileptic boy's high-profile battle for treatment.
Mr Beggs said: "It is frankly outrageous the Caldwells were forced to fly to Canada for a six-month supply of the prescribed medication, only for it to be later cruelly seized at the airport.
"Charlotte Caldwell has not only been an enduring hero to her son Billy, but also to the thousands of other people across the UK campaigning for an evidence-based approach to the use of medicinal cannabis oil.
"In 2018 it is simply not good enough that increasingly archaic legal restrictions were put in the way of delivering the best possible care to a 12-year-old boy.
"The time is long-overdue for the UK to make a final decision on the medical use of cannabis oil. It works in the case of Billy Caldwell, and there is an ever-growing evidence base of it working for many other conditions.
"Until then, I fear the Caldwells won't be the only family to get caught up in the legal ambiguity surrounding the use of the medication." Green Party in NI leader Steven Agnew said the initial decision to take Billy's medication away was "senseless and cruel".
"I wish Billy well and hope that his condition improves as the cannabis oil is administered," he said.
"However, I am minded of the many other Billys out there - children and adults with conditions that could be improved by the use of cannabis oil.
"This medicine helps Billy, so why shouldn't everyone in a similar medical position be given access to it?"
Sinn Fein MP Orfhlaith Begley described the Home Office decision as "life-saving".
She said: "Billy should never have been put in that position.
"The treatment was clearly working for him and he deteriorated badly once it ended, yet it still took intense lobbying to get the Home Office to reverse this cruel decision."
SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said the Home Office was "completely wrong to confiscate Billy's cannabis oil" in the first instance.
"This issue could have been completely prevented to begin with and never needed to happen," he said.
"I am however delighted that the decision has been overturned and Billy will be able to start treatment again soon.
"The SDLP will continue to lobby for reform of laws relating to the use of cannabis oil as a medical treatment. No person or child should be allowed to suffer needlessly when there's a clinical need for treatment."