LONDON — British Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced that the United Kingdom will legalize cannabis oil this fall, according to The Guardian. Cannabis oils will be reclassified as a Schedule 2 drug on Britain's Misuse of Drugs Regulations, which will allow patients to legally receive cannabidiol treatment. Smokable cannabis will remain illegal.
The Home Secretary began an investigation after a public outcry highlighted the stories of 12-year-old Billy Caldwell and six-year-old Alfie Dingley, both of whom have intractable epilepsy causing them to suffer from up to 100 seizures every day.
The boys were denied the only medication that helps to control their seizures, prompting public outcry. Caldwell's medication was confiscated last month at a London airport. Dingley's parents had moved abroad to get the medicine legally, returning after running out of money. Alfie was hospitalized in March and his mother says that cannabis oil is the only medicine that has worked.
Both children use cannabis oils to control their seizures. Cannabis oil can reduce the severity of seizures and decrease the number by 50 percent, and studies show that 10 percent of patients see up to a 90 percent decrease in seizures.
The British company GW Pharmaceuticals created an epilepsy drug derived from cannabis called Epidiolex, which was recently the first cannabis drug approved by the FDA. The drug is especially effective in treating childhood epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
Javid consulted England's chief medical officer Professor Dame Sally Davies before making the decision. Davies, as well as the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs told Javid that certain patients would benefit from cannabis oil and should have the treatments. Javid had asked for an immediate review after the media reported about the two boys being denied the medicine.
Javid Says Sick Kids Made Him Decide to Legalize Cannabis Oils
“Recent cases involving sick children made it clear to me that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory," said Javid. He went on to say that a panel of experts will set up a process to provide physicians guidelines for how to proceed in prescribing the drug.
The Department for Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency will be in charge of defining which cannabis products will be considered medicinal, according to the BBC. Doctors will be able to apply to an expert panel in the meantime. Javid also announced that all applicable license fees would be waived, including licenses that have already been granted.
King’s College London's Dr. Tom Freeman praised the decision by Javid to legalize cannabis oil and said that the decision would have a significant impact on medical marijuana research as well as ensuring safe medicine is available and effective.
The Director of External Affairs at the MS Society Genevieve Edwards also praised the announcement. "This is exceptional news and we want to thank the Home Secretary for the speed at which this decision has been made," she said.
Charlotte Caldwell was also relieved to hear the news and expressed her gratitude to Javid. "For the first time in months, I’m almost lost for words, other than 'Thank You, Sajid Javid.' Never has Billy received a better birthday present, and never from somebody so unexpected," said Caldwell.
She added that her son Billy will now be able to live his life normally because she will finally be able to give her son his medicine legally, noting that the news was delivered in time for Billy's 13th birthday.
Cannabis oils can help to alleviate symptoms from addiction, Alzheimer's, cancer, inflammation, severe forms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, nausea, pain, and PTSD.