| Lisa Mcwilliams
In a historical event for British medical cannabis advocates, cannabis oil containing THC and CBD was brought across the UK border legally for the first time last week. A woman purchased the substance in Amsterdam and brought it in via London City Airport without any trouble from border authorities.
Hannah Deacon purchased a 5-month supply of cannabis oil for her son, Alfie Dingley, who relies on the mixture to treat frequent and debilitating seizures from a rare form of epilepsy. The Home Office granted a licence on 19 June giving legal permission for her son to medicate with cannabis oil after a very public and protracted legal battle.
"Today, for the first time ever in this country, we have bought back THC oil through the airport legally, which is amazing," she said. "It is very, very important for him to have a normal, happy life so it's a momentous occasion for us, his whole family and for him, most importantly."
Most cannabis oils used for medical purposes contain a mixture of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the illegal compound in cannabis that gives users a high, and cannabidiol (CBD), the legal compound in the plant that is increasingly used to treat a wide variety of medical conditions. According to Alfie’s mother, the concoction reduces his seizures from 300 to only one a month.
On the same day, another child suffering from Dravet syndrome was rushed to the hospital after a life-threatening bought of seizures and placed on a ventilator. The parents of the young girl, Sophia Gibson, 6, have also been waiting on the Home Office for a cannabis oil licence.
After hard-fought lobbying efforts by the parents of children suffering from various forms of epilepsy, the Home Office established a special panel in June that would approve such licenses on a case-by-case basis. However, this process requires that the importer of the drug first deliver it to the patient’s GP, who then must approve it for prescription. Under the current scheduling of THC, this process must be repeated each time a new batch of the THC/CBD mixture is brought in.
For the parents of children suffering from epilepsy, the process is not yet streamlined enough to provide reliable access to cannabis oil. That could change, as the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs proceeds with the second phase of an assessment to see if medical cannabis products should be rescheduled.
The Home Office could announce its decision within the coming weeks, potentially lifting a weight off of parents who are forced to obtain cannabis oil illegally and opening up new avenues for research on the drug’s medical applications.