More than 400,000 Brits have signed a petition for medicinal cannabis guidelines to be relaxed in order to ease the suffering of epileptic children.

Hannah Deacon was able to secure repeat prescriptions for her seven-year-old son, Alfie Dingley, after his case made front-page news across the UK. The Home Office bowed down to public pressure and permitted thousands of specialist doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis for British patients. But “cruel and ridiculous” guidelines issued by the Royal College of Physicians and The British Paediatric Neurology Association make it all but impossible for doctors to actually prescribe marijuana.

Now Deacon is going back on the offensive in order to help more pain sufferers gain access to cannabis. Her new petition, launched this week, has already gained support from more than 400,000 people. The families of 12 epileptic children have written to the national media to lambast the guidance put forward by the NHS.

They argue that the prospect of being forced to travel abroad for treatment even though the drugs are now technically legal in the UK is ludicrous, cruel, and totally unfair. They said the guidelines are “so tight that even those high-profile children, including Alfie, would fail to qualify for a prescription under them”.

To be fair to the British government, the guidelines around medicinal marijuana are probably not top of its list of priorities right now. Theresa May’s Brexit plan has been savaged, ministers are quitting, votes of confidence are arranged, the value of the pound is plummeting, and chaos reigns. But Home Secretary Sajid Javid will be compelled to look into the petition launched by Deacon and the other parents, as they’re extremely influential right now, and the press is happy to give them a platform from which to vent their frustrations.

Deacon says she feels guilty that her campaigning has allowed her son to receive the treatment he needs, but that many more people are denied such help. They have a good chance of winning the fight, as the guidelines on prescribing medicinal cannabis will not be officially published by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence until October 2019, and the guidance is under review until then and could feasibly be amended to make it less strict.

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