Pressure is piling on the British government to relax its stance on medicinal cannabis after another high-profile case of a sick child being denied treatment.
Three-year-old Eddie Braun suffers from severe epilepsy and his paediatric consultant recommended his parents, Imarie and Alex, apply for a medicinal cannabis licence. But they have just learned that the licence was denied, and they say they’re devastated, upset, and exhausted by a complicated and misleading application process that has ultimately proved to be futile.
Their child suffers from severe epilepsy and he suffers from several clusters of terrifying seizures per day. The Brauns have tried giving him CBD oil, but they have seen little effect. They want something more powerful to treat Eddie’s epilepsy, but the much-maligned panel rejected their pleas.
Home secretary Sajid Javid set up the panel in June to consider applications for medical cannabis in exceptional cases. It followed huge media coverage of the story of Warwickshire six-year-old Alfie Dingwall, who had 30 epileptic fits a day. Cannabis can reduce that to just 20 per year, but his mother, Hannah Deacon, was repeatedly denied, as she was told the drug cannot be practically prescribed, administered or supplied to the British public.
Yet she campaigned hard and Javid relented, creating the panel and bending the law in exceptional cases. Yet since June, Dingwall is one of just two children to be permitted medical marijuana. The other licence went to 13-year-old Billy Caldwell, but further applications have been turned down, and campaign group End Our Pain claims the panel’s guiding criteria is far too strict.
Conservative MP Sir Mike Penning, a former Home Office minister, has backed End Our Pain’s stance. “There is now a serious risk that the much-welcomed panel may soon become a focus of disappointment if it is seen to only help a very small number of patients,” he said. Penning has spoken to several patients that are deeply frustrated first by the reluctance of doctors and NHS trusts to apply to the panel, and secondly by the panel’s restrictive guidelines.
The Home Office said it sympathizes with families desperate to secure treatment, but it cannot comment on individual cases. Yet much progress has already been made in a short space of time in this area, and the pressure is set to continue building on the government to soften its criteria for permitting medicinal cannabis.
With every heart-wrenching story of a child in agony, the clamour grows for the government to act, and it seems like the End Our Pain campaign could emerge triumphant in the not too distant future.