A twisted double standard lies behind the government’s decision to deny a child life-changing medicine

Theresa May Alfie Dingley Cannabis

The government has denied a life-changing, cannabis-based treatment to a six-year-old boy with epilepsy. And in doing so, it has exposed the hypocrisy at its heart; because a Conservative minister’s husband is growing cannabis for a pharmaceutical company to use in childhood epilepsy medicine.

Pleading with the government

Alfie Dingley lives with a rare form of childhood epilepsy called PCDH19. It means he can have up to 30 violent seizures a day and often has to go into hospital. But as BBC News reported, since using medical cannabis oil, prescribed in the Netherlands, Alfie’s seizures have reduced in “number, duration and severity”. While in the Netherlands, he went 24 days without a seizure.

Back in the UK, Alfie’s family lobbied the Home Office to grant a licence to administer cannabis oil at home. And the Home Office refused to grant it. So his mother Hannah Deacon made an emotional plea to the government on BBC Breakfast on Monday 19 February:

The Home Office

The Home Office told BBC News:

Cannabis is listed as a Schedule 1 drug, as in its raw form it is not recognised in the UK as having any medicinal benefit and is therefore subject to strict control restrictions.

This means it cannot be practically prescribed, administered, or supplied to the public in the UK, and can only be used for research under a Home Office licence.

Read on...

The Home Office would not issue a licence to enable the personal consumption of a Schedule 1 drug.

Meanwhile, the husband of Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins is growing cannabis for GW Pharmaceuticals to use in an epilepsy drug for children.

Breathtaking hypocrisy

Atkins is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability at the Home Office. Part of her remit is drugs and drug policy. And as The Canary previously reported, her husband is the Managing Director of British Sugar Paul Kenward. The company is supplying GW Pharmaceuticals with up to 23 football pitches-worth of “non-psychoactive” cannabis for its drug Epidiolex. This is enough to treat up to 40,000 children a year.

The drug is aimed at two forms of rare childhood epilepsy which are not the same as Alfie’s. But GW Pharmaceuticals hopes to develop Epidiolex to treat other childhood epilepsy syndromes. It is waiting for the US government to approve the drug before it is available to patients there.

Although the UK government does not recognise cannabis-derivatives as “having any medicinal benefit”, it will happily allow British companies to profit from using them in medication abroad. And the fact that the husband of a minister, responsible for drug policy no less, is also profiting from this is very concerning.

Alfie’s quality of life is not only poor, but constantly at risk. As campaign groups like Release say, the government needs to rethink its drugs policy. And quickly.

Get Involved!

– Sign the petition to allow Alfie to receive the medication he needs.

– For advice on drugs or drugs and the law contact Release on 020 7324 2989.

Featured image via Guardian News/YouTube and YouTube 

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed