Legally, patients who qualify can access medical cannabis across the UK ever since an enabling law paved the way for this treatment to be available from November 1, 2018. However, the reality is another thing altogether as patients are made to jump endless hoops in order to access medical marijuana through the National Health Service (NHS).
The cumbersome bureaucratic system has compelled many desperate parents of kids who badly need medical marijuana to resort to smuggling the medicine from other countries.
Emma Appleby is one of those parents, and her story is heart-wrenching. She says her daughter, aged nine, suffers from severe epilepsy that causes the child to have more than 300 seizures every single day.
Appleby tried to follow the official channels in order to get her daughter on the medical cannabis that has been documented to help patients like her child. However, she got one flat “no” after another as she presented her case before various medical officials who had to approve her application before her daughter could get medical cannabis.
This rejection pushed Appleby to the edge and last week, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She travelled to the Netherlands and bought medical cannabis oil worth nearly $6,000. This was sufficient to treat her daughter for three months.
However, customs authorities seized the medicine as soon as she landed back home. She is angry that her daughter continues to suffer while the medical professionals and the NHS keep arguing about what sort of evidence is required for one to access medical marijuana.
Emma Appleby has vowed to fight until the seized medication is returned so that her child can be treated. Hers isn’t a farfetched dream, since there is a precedent on this issue.
Earlier this year, another parent, Charlotte Caldwell, also tried to smuggle medical cannabis into the UK but it was intercepted by customs. However, the medicine was quickly returned to her (in less than a week) after her sick son’s health deteriorated and he was admitted. Cannabis had been keeping the boy stable, so when he went without it as the authorities prevented his mother from treating him with the smuggled medicine then his health went downhill rapidly.
Such cases have led medical cannabis supporters in the British parliament to rise up in arms against the implementers of the medical cannabis law who have made it hard for the intended beneficiaries of that law to access badly needed treatment.
The program is so hard to navigate that only 12 patients have got licenses to receive medical cannabis since November 1 last year when the law came into effect. TransCanna Holdings Inc. (CSE: TCAN) and VIVO Cannabis Inc. (TSX.V: VIVO) (OTCQX: VVCIF) sympathize with the parents who have been forced to try and circumnavigate the law in order to access medical cannabis. The authorities should do whatever is possible to make it easier for patients to get the treatment they need.
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