Edinburgh mother welcomes announcement of clinical trials for medicinal cannabis

A campaigning Edinburgh mum has welcomed a UK Government promise of clinical trials for medicinal cannabis.

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Karen Gray, who currently has to pay £1,400 a month for cannabis-based medication for her nine-year-old son Murray, said the move was “a step in the right direction”.

Murray has a rare form of epilepsy and was having hundreds of seizures every day until he started taking daily doses of the cannabis-based drug Bedrolite, but now the fits have stopped completely.

Karen Gray with son Murray.

In response to a question from Edinburgh West Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine in the Commons today, Health Minister Gillian Keegan announced the UK Government would be supporting a programme of two randomised clinical trials into products which contain CBD, CBD plus THC and a placebo.

The announcement follows discussions which Ms Jardine had in January with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who legalised medicinal cannabis when he was Home Secretary three years ago.

However, since then only three NHS prescriptions have been issued and because drugs like Bedrolite are not licensed in this country people who have found it helps their condition have to pay for it.

Ms Gray said: "We’ve been waiting since November 2018 for this to happen – that’s when the law was changed – but we’re still having to pay.

"Murray and the other children wouldn’t be eligible for a trial because it would mean weaning them off their current medication, which no-one would do.

"It’s good that doctors are going to be prescribing a product with THC, they just need to prescribe it for our kids as well.”

Ms Jardine said: “I am delighted that the government has listened to our calls and is supporting these trials which, hopefully, can break the deadlock and bring closer the provision of NHS prescriptions for children who desperately need them.

“I have seen first-hand the transformative effect medical cannabis can have on children with epilepsy. That is why it is so welcome that the government has taken these steps today.

“There is however still a lot more that can be done in the short term to alleviate the strain on these families who have fought so hard for their children. I hope this signals the beginning of more support for them from this government, especially in the short term.

“We also need to recognise that medicinal cannabis can be an important contribution to the relief of pain and suffering for thousands of people in this country including those children with rare forms of epilepsy, but also many others with conditions such as multiple sclerosis and chronic pain.”

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