An epileptic boy suffered heavy seizures and was hospitalized after UK customs officers seized medicinal cannabis oil from his mother. The case sparked outrage and prompted Home Secretary Sajid Javid to intervene.
British Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Saturday granted 12-year-old Billy Caldwell the use of cannabis oil, as the epileptic boy was facing a "medical emergency."
Caldwell's condition deteriorated after customs officers in London confiscated cannabis oil used for his treatment on Monday, as the boy and his mother were returning home from Canada. He was hospitalized due to heavy seizures on Friday.
Javid said he had used "an exceptional power as home secretary" to bypass the ban on the cannabis-based medication. The UK officially views cannabis as a drug with no therapeutic value.
The Caldwells' family doctor had been treating the 12-year-old with cannabis oil in the UK for more than a year. However, the UK Home Office recently ordered the doctor stop prescribing the substance. The move prompted Billy's mother, Charlotte Caldwell, to take the boy to Canada and obtain the medication there. After their supplies were seized at the airport, the youth was left without treatment and his condition deteriorated.
Addressing the reporters outside Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where her son was being treated, Charlotte Caldwell asked for the UK laws on cannabis to be changed.
"No other family should have to go through this sort of ordeal, traveling halfway around the world to get medication which should be freely available to our desperately ill children," she said.
"This is a wake-up call for our country," Caldwell added. "I hope the government reflects upon what happened and what they've put our family through these last few days."
dj/rc (Reuters, AP)