Many of you will have recently heard the news of the mother of a boy who was stopped by customs officers trying to “openly smuggle” cannabis oil into the UK from Toronto.
Charlotte Caldwell, whose son Billy, 12, has up to 100 epileptic seizures a day without cannabis oil had his medicine confiscated from her by customs agents at Heathrow on Monday 11 June 2018.
Last year, Billy became the first child to be prescribed medicinal cannabis oil on the NHS. He then reportedly went 250 days without a seizure. However, his GP was later ordered by the Home Office not to renew the prescription.
On arrival at Heathrow, Caldwell was not cautioned but was instead invited to the Home Office to meet the minister of state, Nick Hurd. She was then told that the potentially life-saving cannabis oil confiscated from her would not be returned.
The move provoked widespread criticism, with MPs who support the legalisation of medicinal cannabis criticising the UK’s cannabis laws calling for urgent reform after Billy had his first epileptic seizure in 300 days.
Crispin Blunt, a former prisons minister and co-chair of the all-parliamentary group on drug policy reform, said: “Billy Caldwell is one child out of many hundreds, as well as many thousands of adults, who would benefit from cannabis derived medicines in the UK.
This will come as good news to CRPS patients who are constantly searching for innovative treatments and approaches to relieve the high levels of pain their bodies are in, motivating modern medicine to continue to look at and research alternative approaches.
We know of Studies published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry in 2012 and in 2013 in the Journal of Pain that have suggested that cannabis might be more effective at relieving the pain associated with CRPS than opioid based medications, including morphine. Other studies show that CBD reduces chronic pain with muscle spasms, arthritis, and nerve pain. Further studies published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that CBD use led to reduced levels of chronic pain and that patients didn’t develop the dangerous tolerance noted with opiate medications.
Last year, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) classed cannabidiol (CBD) as a medicine in the UK, but it has yet to be licensed as a medicine. The agency has said that CBD products must be licensed as this means they “have to meet safety, quality and efficacy standards”.
As a medicine CBD can only be prescribed by doctors in very special and limited circumstances.
Whilst the Home Office have confirmed that CBD is not covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 or the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, as it still stands the oil containing the THC chemical is illegal in the UK under the misuse of drugs legislation.
So what is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 80 phytocannabinoids, or chemical compounds, produced by the cannabis plant
Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two types of cannabinoids found naturally in the resin of the marijuana plant.
THC is the main psychoactive component of cannabis whereas CBD is non-psychoactive and possesses a broad range of actual and potential medical applications.
Unlike THC, pure CBD oil is not a psycho-active ingredient associated with the “high” in marijuana.
The UK is ironically the world’s largest producer and exporter of legal cannabis for medical and scientific use. It provides the majority of the world’s medicinal cannabis exports, 67.6%, mainly to countries with more liberal usage laws.
Change in the Law?
Doctors in the House of Commons are to lead a campaign to change the law banning the medicinal use of cannabis, as a new all-party parliamentary group (APPG) forms to campaign for the issue.
Dan Poulter, a former health minister who still works part-time as a GP, said he had already signed up fellow Conservative Andrew Murrison, Labour’s Paul Williams, and Philippa Whitford of the Scottish National party – four of the Commons’ nine medical doctors.
Mr Poulter and the former justice minister Mike Penning made a pledge to make policy recommendations to help remedy the situation as soon as was possible.
“There is a general consensus among MPs that the ban on cannabis-derived drugs should be lifted, but the support of so many doctors in the Commons would give the campaign extra weight”
He and colleagues will look “in a rigorous scientific way” at evidence from countries that allow medicinal cannabis use, then make recommendations to the government on how the law could be changed
Should the law change, the options for CRPS patients will open up for many who may wish to consider using medicinal cannabis for pain relief.