Testing the medical cannabis law surrounding the prescription of cannabis in a judicial review at Belfast High Court on 25 June 2019, Caldwell may potentially change the course of history.
Billy Caldwell suffers from severe epilepsy and is reliant on medicinal cannabis to control his seizures, and mother, Charlotte Caldwell will test the law surrounding the prescription of medicinal cannabis in a judicial review at Belfast High Court on Tuesday 25 June in a case that could potentially loosen up current restrictions on the 35,000 general practitioners from prescribing cannabis based medicinal products – can this review have the power to change the stance of medical cannabis across the whole of the UK?
Medical cannabis law
Medicinal cannabis has been legal in the UK since November 2018 but can only be prescribed by specialist doctors in a limited number of circumstances. The result of this is that thousands of patients are denied access who could potentially benefit from medicinal cannabis, with many being forced to turn to illicit supplies to relieve their suffering.
Should the ruling in Northern Ireland fall in favour of Caldwell it could potentially be authoritative across the whole of the UK.
Providing a statement on the hearing and the potential impact, Anurag Deb, of KRW LAW LLP, on behalf of Charlotte Caldwell, explains: “The judicial review taken by Charlotte Caldwell in relation to Billy’s care is due to be heard on 25 June.
“The question for the Court is whether the change in the law which came into effect late last year allows shared care arrangements, so that a specialist directs the prescription and a local GP writes it.
“While the question is on one discrete point, the impact of its answer is potentially much wider. This is the first time since the change in law that the High Court in Belfast has had the opportunity to determine what it means.”
“First time that a court anywhere in the UK has been asked to interpret the legal position”
Deb continues: “The law in Northern Ireland is also substantially similar to the equivalent law in England, Wales and Scotland. This means that 25 June marks the first time that a court anywhere in the UK has been asked to interpret the legal position of prescribing medicinal cannabis.
“This apart, the way the High Court answers the question could mean the difference between Charlotte and Billy having to travel repeatedly to England or remain at home in order to get the medication which has managed Billy’s life-threatening seizures.
“The case may therefore greatly impact the lives of children in similar circumstances to Billy and indeed many other individuals whose conditions mean that they may benefit from medicinal cannabis.”
Caldwell adds: “The outcome of this judicial review is vital not just for me and Billy but for thousands of other parents and patients who, one year on from the Home Secretary declaring medicinal cannabis legal, have been denied at every stage prolonging their agony and driving many into the black market.”