DOCTORS in the Lothians will be able to legally prescribe medicinal cannabis after a Home Office decision means the drugs will be made available on the NHS throughout the UK.
The move was welcomed with delight by Karen Gray, from East Craigs, who has campaigned tirelessly to have access to Cannabidiol (CBD) for her five-year-old son Murray who was diagnosed with Myoclonic Astatic Epilepsy and has been in and out of the Royal Hospital for Sick Children where he receives treatment for crippling seizures.
It is expected the first prescriptions will be given out in the autumn after Home Secretary Sajid Javid decided to reschedule the products, relaxing the rules which are not devolved, about the circumstances in which medicinal cannabis can be given to patients.
Karen started a petition with help from activists 38 Degrees that attracted 170,000 signatures and was handed into Downing Street with the aim of triggering debate around the issue. She said that Murray had been specially prescribed epidiolex a form of medicinal cannabis but the decision now opened up slightly stronger types of the drug that contained small traces of the substance Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis.
Karen told the Evening News: “I think common sense has prevailed here. We all know that cannabis is medicinal and now they’re admitting it, so it’s fantastic and a step forward in the right direction.”
Murray’s case is similar to that of Alfie Dingley, six, from Kenilworth, Warwickshire, who has 20 to 30 seizures a day and Northern Irish teenager Billy Caldwell whose conditions appeared to be helped by cannabis oil. At one point Karen, who has two other children, had considered taking matters into her own hands and administering medicinal cannabis that had been bought online to Murray.
But the decision has taken the pressure off in terms of opening up new treatment for Murray.
Karen said: “I would like to thank everyone for their help throughout my campaign – The Evening News for first highlighting my campaign, 38 Degrees for working hard to push this through, Alex Cole-Hamilton my MSP and Christine Jardine my MP, my husband Stuart for putting up with me constantly being on my phone campaigning.
“Lastly Hannah Deacon, Alfie’s Mum who inspired me to carry on fighting”.
Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine said: “I cannot express how pleased and relieved I am for Karen and Murray, this is their victory and a moment that could change their lives. It’s ridiculous it has taken mothers to plead for the welfare, the lives of their children, for something to be done by this government.”
Scottish Government health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “We welcome this decision, which from autumn will allow clinicians to prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products. It is important the NHS in Scotland is involved in the development of clinical guidelines to support doctors and to make sure products are safe.”