Billy Caldwell May Have Moved A Kingdom Toward Marijuana Reform

Britain has been making headlines in June 2018 regarding its complete lack of medical cannabis availability for its citizens. The United Kingdom, or at least its current government under Prime Minister Theresa May, has been staunchly opposed to any medicinal marijuana reform whatsoever.

This intentional move to keep the government’s head in the sand while surrounding European countries legalize the medicine with increasing frequency, has been seen as ignorance in the face of a medical revolution.

Recently, however, the discussions changed.

A 12-year-old British boy named Billy Caldwell flew with his mother to Canada in order to receive cannabis oil for treatment of his intractable epilepsy. For Billy, no other medicine had worked to halt the dozens of seizures he had on any given day.

Billy was the first patient in the UK to receive a medical cannabis prescription, which was recently halted by the UK government. Billy and his mother, Charlotte, were forced to get their medicine elsewhere, so they went to Canada.

They returned to Britain on June 11, 2018, and the cannabis oil they received was promptly confiscated. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, and Billy had his medication returned. However, the conflict between law enforcement and Billy’s mother turned out to be a major catalyst in opening up the discussion to legalize medical cannabis.

Now, in a trickle of empathy, the government has set up an expert panel in which doctors can apply for prescriptions on a patient-by-patient basis. The process looks extremely slow and tedious, but it’s a beginning nonetheless.

I spoke with Jason Reed, the Executive Director at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition UK (LEAP UK), and he was cautiously optimistic about recent discussions.

“After decades of campaigning from many sectors, and recent calls from public health bodies such as the Royal Society of Public Health, The M.S. Society, the Royal College of Nursing, and most notably the British Medical Journal, the momentum around drug law reform and medical cannabis is hard to ignore,” Reed e said. “The recent movement around medical cannabis seems to have prompted a big and necessary conversation. Finally, after lagging behind, the UK now seems ready to have a dialogue around reform.”

The painfully obvious reasons the United Kingdom should legalize medical marijuana will undoubtedly be at the forefront of conversation for some time.

For starters, European countries that include Germany, Italy, Greece, Poland, Belgium, Croatia, and others, already have some form of a medical cannabis framework in place.

If these countries have determined cannabis is suitable to treat its citizens, the UK should at the very least look at the medical results that have come out of these nations since legalization.

Then there are the financial benefits that come along with allowing a new medical sector into the nation. The amount of investment and innovation that would likely come with another European world leader adopting cannabis as medicine is infinite.

Finally, the UK government should consider medical cannabis legalization to stop its blatant hypocrisy.

Despite incredible anti-pot propaganda that frequently spouts from Prime Minister Theresa May, her husband, Philip May, is a senior executive at Capital Group. His enormous financial investment firm profits off of GW Pharmaceuticals, a very prominent cannabis cultivator.

The same is true for Britain’s Drug Minister Victoria Atkins, whose husband, Paul Kenward, is the managing director of British Sugar, a company that grows cannabis for GW Pharmaceuticals. All of the medicinal marijuana grown by these two entities is exported out of the country, with nothing left for the UK citizens who need it.

The debate over medical cannabis for the United Kingdom has been long and arduous. Patients, advocates, government officials, and other supporters have been slowly making headway on the issue.

Perhaps with this new discussion, the naysayers will truly begin to listen.

Jon Hiltz was a journalist for for two years and is now director of business development for INDIVA, a licensed cannabis producer in Ontario Canada.

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