June 16, 2018 / 10:19 AM / 5 months ago

British boy hospitalised after medicinal cannabis confiscated

LONDON, June 16 (Reuters) - An epileptic boy has been hospitalised in London days after the authorities confiscated his cannabis oil medication in a case that has stirred debate about the medicinal use of the illegal drug.

Billy Caldwell, 12, had travelled to Canada with his mother Charlotte to obtain cannabis oil after Billy’s doctor was ordered to stop prescribing it, but when they flew back into London customs officials confiscated their supplies.

“Billy needs his confiscated anti-epilepsy medication immediately,” Charlotte Caldwell said in a statement.

She said her son’s seizures, each of which is potentially fatal, had returned on Tuesday after the medication was seized. She said that when he was using the cannabis oil, he was free of seizures.

The Home Office, or interior ministry, could not immediately be reached for comment about Billy’s hospitalisation. It had previously said that while it was sympathetic to his plight, it had a duty to stop banned substances from entering Britain.

Under British law, cannabis is listed as a schedule 1 drug, meaning that it is not recognised as having a therapeutic value. Schedule 1 drugs can be used for research purposes and clinical trials, but only under a Home Office licence.

The Caldwell family, who normally live in Northern Ireland, have received support from several members of parliament from different political parties.

Billy Caldwell had been receiving medicinal cannabis oil on prescription by his family doctor for over a year, but supplies ran out after the Home Office ordered the doctor to stop prescribing it. (Reporting by Estelle Shirbon Editing by Ros Russell)

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