A British mother has found herself at the forefront of a political debate after her supplies of medicinal cannabis oil were confiscated at the airport.
Charlotte Caldwell was returning from Canada, where she had been buying the cannabis-based medicine for her epileptic son, when the medicinal cannabis oil she had brought was confiscated by customs officers. She had planned to use the medicine to treat her son as it had proved effective in stopping his seizures, Reuters has reported.
Caldwell lives with her 12-year old son, Billy, in Northern Ireland. The pair flew to Canada over the weekend to buy more of the medicine after their supplies ran out.
Previously they had been able access the medicine through a prescription from Billy’s doctor. The doctor prescribed the oil to assist Billy and ease his condition – while using the oil Billy had experienced a sharp drop in the number of seizures. As these seizures can be life threatening they are a source of constant concern and worry for Charlotte and her son.
Billy Caldwell had been using the medicinal cannabis oil for over a year, but supplies ran out shortly after the British Home Office instructed his doctor to stop prescribing it.
Cannabis based products are illegal under British law and the British government does not recognise cannabis as having any health benefits. This means that in Britain the Caldwells will not be able to buy the medicine that they now rely on to maintain Billy’s health and safety.
Caldwell had to fly to Canada with her son where they could legally buy more supplies; however after landing at Heathrow airport early on the morning of June 11th customs officers quickly confiscated her supplies.
Just days after the supplies were confiscated Billy suffered his first epileptic fit in months.
The Home Office has said that they are sympathetic to the Caldwell case but stand behind the actions of the UK Border Force who were carrying out their duty to confiscate all illegal substances entering the UK.
Charlotte Caldwell has been invited to meet Nick Hurd, the junior minister for policing, Dan Poulter, a serving member of parliament from the ruling Conservative Party has given his support to Caldwell.
In a statement released by Caldwell’s representative, Poulter is quoted as saying, “The current law is ridiculous; there is growing evidence that cannabis products used medically can be helpful in treating a number of conditions, yet it is still seen through the prism of illegality here in the UK.”
The Epilepsy Foundation say there is medical evidence to prove the effectiveness of medical marijuana to control epileptic seizures; it is already being used in Canada and the United States. Non-hallucinogenic strands of the plant have been created specifically for medical use -- however it remains a banned substance in the UK.
While she intends to fight against the current law Charlotte Caldwell’s short-term strategy is simple. In her statement she said. “I’m just going to turn around and go get some more, and keep doing so until the UK authorities see sense.”
Caldwell is not worried about breaking the law to provide medication for her son. “I take the view that I’d rather have my son illegally alive than legally dead. This is the scenario that the phrase ‘no brainer’ was invented for.”