A seven-year-old from Northern Ireland, waiting to hear if she will be granted a licence to be treated with medicinal cannabis oil, has been admitted to hospital after suffering a severe seizure.
Sophia Gibson, from Newtownards in Co Down, has an extreme form of epilepsy which can lead to frequent fits. Her parents, Danielle and Darren Gibson, have applied for a licence to use cannabis oil to help her condition but have yet to hear a response from the Home Office, which is reviewing the benefits of the oil for medical use.
Gibson’s parents have argued that this licence should be granted immediately. “No parent wants to see their child like this, and there are so many other children like Sophia, something needs to be done, there has been too much stalling (around medicinal cannabis),” said Danielle Gibson.
Sophia is now in intensive care in the Royal Victoria hospital n Belfast after the seizure resulted in her being put into an induced coma.
Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake accused the Conservatives of putting children’s lives at risk. In a parliamentary question, Brake said: “Sophia Gibson is in intensive care now … I am calling on the government to take immediate action and guarantee that children and adults with severe health conditions are not endangered by a clunky, slow review system.”
The home secretary, Sajid Javid, has launched a review by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to consider whether cannabis could be made easier to prescribe for medical use. It comes after a review last month was published in which the chief medical officer of England, Sally Davies, concluded there was evidence of “therapeutic benefit” for some conditions.
The ACMD will be advising on whether cannabis-related medicinal products should be rescheduled within the next three weeks.
Javid ordered the first part of the review last month, after a number of high-profile cases involving children being denied access to cannabis oil to control epileptic seizures.
Brake asked whether children suffering from epilepsy and associated illnesses will be able to apply for emergency use of medical cannabis after receiving the consent of a doctor. However, the government answered that recommendations could only be provided in a two- to four-week timeframe.
Brake said: “The government still does not appreciate that children’s lives are at risk now … If a child’s doctor decides that cannabis oil will help that child, they should be given temporary access to medicinal cannabis while their case is under review.”
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