The government has gone against its own policy on marijuana in allowing a sick child to use it to relieve his symptoms.
On the 16th of June, the Home Secretary finally issued a temporary medical marijuana license to Billy Caldwell, a 12-year-old boy with severe epilepsy, after tireless campaigns from his mother to get him relief from his symptoms.
Billy was issued his license on the basis of emergency medical need but Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 declares that marijuana has ‘no currently accepted medical use’. This just isn’t true. It’s about time the government remove marijuana as a Schedule 1 Class B drug, and ensure sufferers like Billy can get the help that they need.
Reinstating it as a Schedule 4 controlled substance would give doctors the right to prescribe it when they see fit, and help others in dire need of pain relief from debilitating conditions. Billy would be able to visit his GP, obtain a prescription and then visit a pharmacy to pick up his medicine. Whilst Billy’s struggle has been a travesty, he is paving the way for others up and down the country to not have to fight the government for access to the treatment that they so desperately need.
The Misuse of Drugs Act is nearly 50 years old. Medically and scientifically, we are light years ahead of where we were when this legislation was introduced. We are letting people like Billy down due to an archaic stigmatisation of a drug which is still being governed by an outdated policy. This must be reassessed to introduce legislation fit for the 21st century while bringing the UK in line with an ever growing global consensus that marijuana has significant medical uses. 39 countries and 32 US states have passed laws permitting medicinal marijuana use. The UK lags significantly behind in passing such progressive policies; policies that will alleviate suffering.
Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb declared it to be ‘utterly shameful that we continue to criminalise people who use cannabis for medicinal purposes, including pain relief’. The Liberal Democrats Manifesto calls for the full legalisation and regulation of marijuana in its entirety.
Wera Hobhouse MP said: “If medicinal marijuana can help sufferers with pain, and give them relief from their symptoms then I think it’s humane to use as a treatment. The government needs to step up and overhaul their legislation on the drug, which they now admit has medicinal benefits.”