Will the Case of Billy Caldwell Set a New Precedent for Medical Cannabis in the UK?

According to a story from uk.news.yahoo.com, when Billy Caldwell, age 12, and his mother returned from traveling to Canada, the Home Office initially confiscated a substance that had been the entire purpose of their trip: cannabis oil.
They had obtained the oil because Billy has an extreme form of epilepsy that could inflict almost 100 seizures per day at its worst.

There is a steadily accumulating record of evidence that indicates that cannabis oil could have legitimate medical uses. For Billy, the oil sharply cuts down the number of devastating seizures that he experiences. Billy’s story gained wide media attention in the country and the public seemed to be almost universally in support of Billy and his family. Eventually, the home office returned the cannabis oil back to the Caldwells.

The UK’s current position is that anything that contains THC is considered illegal in the country. However, the fact that the Home Office returned the oil has created something of a gray area that should allow citizens to begin to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the government’s current position.

Charlotte, Billy’s mother, used her time on the news to advocate for her son and to call for cannabis legalization for others suffering from similar diseases. With that said, there is evidence to suggest that cannabis could have medical benefits in a diverse array of other diseases; since the government was willing to make an exception for Billy, the current law seems less and less tenable.

Studies have shown that cannabis can help improve appetite and reduce nausea in patients that are undergoing chemotherapy treatment. One cannabis based drug, called Sativex, is already legal in the UK and can help treat muscle spasms. There is also evidence to suggest that cannabis can help multiple sclerosis patients.

Billy’s story also caused some politicians to come out of the woodwork to condemn the current situation. Dan Poulter, who is a Tory MP and the former health minister, said that the entire situation was “ridiculous.” MP Crispin Blunt also echoed the sentiments of Mr. Poulter.

Many hope that this case will spark action as the UK reevaluates potential risks and benefits of cannabis-based medicines.

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