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Cannabis oil row: Billy Caldwell discharged from hospital

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A boy with severe epilepsy, who was admitted to hospital after his medical cannabis oil was confiscated, has been discharged.

Billy Caldwell, 12, was treated with the drug in hospital after the Home Office granted a 20-day licence for the use of the banned substance.

His mother says his seizures are reduced when he takes the oil and has called for it to be freely available.

The BBC understands the government has not begun a review of the drug’s use.

Last week officials at Heathrow Airport confiscated Billy’s cannabis oil, which his mother Charlotte Caldwell had been attempting to bring into the UK from Canada.

It contains a substance called Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is illegal in the UK but available elsewhere.

She said that Billy had been taken to hospital in a “life-threatening condition” on Friday evening, leading the Home Office to intervene.

During the weekend, Home Secretary Sajid Javid granted a team at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital the 20-day licence to administer the medicine.

Ms Caldwell said: “The fact that Billy has been discharged is testimony to the effectiveness of the treatment and underlines how vital it is that every child and every single family affected in our country should have immediate access to the very same medication.”

The mother, from County Tyrone, said she has rented a flat in order to facilitate this temporary treatment.

But she wants the law to be reformed, so Billy can have the medication administered at home.

“I will demand that the health department, not the Home Office, takes responsibility for providing access to medication for these incredibly sick children – this meeting must take place within 24 hours,” Ms Caldwell said on Monday afternoon

“Children in our country are dying and suffering beyond imagination.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the home secretary would complete a review “as quickly as he can”.

But the Home Office has been unable to confirm whether a review is taking place, and Downing Street appears to have distanced the prime minister from the idea.

It is uncertain what will happen when Billy’s 20-day licence expires, and whether the Home Office will continue to allow him to use the drug.

Supporters of the Caldwell’s cause include the MP leading an all-party parliamentary group looking at medical cannabis, Sir Mike Penning.

He called the existing laws “bizare and cruel”, and added that “fundamental reform of the system” was needed.

“Medical cannabis is a health issue, not a misuse of drugs issue,” Sir Mike said in a statement. “It’s about patients and relieving suffering.”

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