A Conservative MP was cut off during a live debate on the BBC‘s Victoria Derbyshire show on Monday 21 May. Not that some people would be concerned, as he was there to defend what many people think is indefensible: the denial of medical cannabis oil to treat seriously ill children.
The debate centred around the case of 11-year-old Billy Caldwell from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Billy lives with intractable and status epilepsy, which means that medication can’t control his seizures, nor can he ‘come out’ of them when they happen; doctors have to medically induce him to recover. Billy’s epilepsy is caused by a lesion on his left temporal lobe, which is inoperable. He was having anything up to 100 seizures a day.
two unlicensed medicinal oils: cannabidiol, which is legal in the UK, and THCA, which is categorised as a class B drug [therefore, illegal].
Billy’s mother, Charlotte Caldwell, says the oil gradually reduced his seizures in length and quantity. But now, O’Hare claims [paywall] that the Home Office has written to him, “warning” him to stop prescribing the oil to Billy. He also claims [paywall] he was told by health officials in Northern Ireland not to prescribe the oil again. Billy now only has around three weeks supply of the oil left.
“Signed my son’s death warrant”
So Charlotte and Billy are on a UK-wide campaign trail to raise awareness of the benefits of medical cannabis oil, for its legalisation and also his situation. Speaking to Victoria Derbyshire, Charlotte said:
The GP wrote the prescription simply because he said ‘common sense prevailed’…
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
The government tried to say…
During the show, host Chloe Tilley tried to cut to Conservative MP George Freeman, presumably to give the government’s defence of not making medical cannabis oil legal. Unfortunately, only a few words came out of Freeman’s mouth before the connection dropped:
If Freeman had spoken, he may well have quoted the line the Home Office told to Belfast Live. It said:
This is a devolved matter. In Northern Ireland it is a matter for the Department of Health Northern Ireland to determine and consider any controlled drug licensing applications from companies and individuals.
The Home Office recognises that people with chronic pain and debilitating illnesses are looking to alleviate their symptoms. However, it is important that medicines are thoroughly tested to ensure they meet rigorous standards before being placed on the market, so that doctors and patients are assured of their efficacy, quality and safety.
“Children are dying”
So, the Home Office neither confirm nor deny it spoke to Billy’s GP. But his case is not the first high profile one of a child desperately needing access to medical cannabis oil. As The Canary has previously reported, Alfie Dingley’s case is very similar to Billy’s. Alfie’s mother made an emotional plea to the government on BBC Breakfast in February:
As Charlotte said on Victoria Derbyshire:
This is not about one child… I’m sick of it… I’ve had it up to my back teeth… I am taking calls for the last year from hundreds… of children, disabled, in their wheelchairs, suffering enormous amounts of seizures a day, being tube fed. Their mummies… crying on the phone… These children are dying in our country… And we now have to stand up here in the UK and say ‘enough is enough’.
Medical cannabis oil: time for a rethink?
The debate over medical cannabis is is becoming more and more prominent, and the government’s arguments continue to weaken. But as The Canary previously reported, there’s a distinct double standard at the heart of its stance on medical cannabis oil. This is because it grants licences for people to grow medical cannabis in the UK. The government then lets companies export it abroad to make treatments for childhood epilepsy.
Children like Billy and Alfie should have the best treatment available for them. If this is medical cannabis oil – then so be it. But the debate around the substance is much wider than just epilepsy. It is one that surely will be needed more and more, as the government continues to look hypocritical and out-of-touch.
Watch the Victoria Derbyshire debate in full:
– For advice on drugs or drugs and the law contact Release on 020 7324 2989.
– Support CLEAR, campaigning for cannabis law reform.
Featured image via YouTube – screengrab
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?