Eleven-year-old Billy Caldwell, from Castlederg in Northern Ireland, has epilepsy and can have up to 100 seizures a day.
His mother Charlotte had previously got cannabis oil for Billy’s treatment from the US. This medicine reportedly had stopped Billy’s seizures. However, when they were unable to travel for a new supply, she took Billy to their GP. Reports say that in recognising this as a “unique” case, Dr Brendan O’Hare prescribed the medicine.
Cannabis oil is a medicine containing a part of the cannabis plant called cannabidiol (CBD). It does not contain the ‘psychoactive’ part of cannabis – the part that causes the feeling of being high. Last year, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) classed CBD as a medicine in the UK. The agency has said that CBD products must be licensed as this means they “have to meet safety, quality and efficacy standards”.
Dr O’Hare has said this was a decision to help a child facing a “crisis” and not a move to open the flood gates. However, campaigners for this type of treatment believe this is a big step forward.