A mum is pleading with the Home Office for a stronger dose of cannabis oil for her toddler who is lying seriously ill in hospital.
Jenna Heary says her two-year-old toddler cannot wait for a change in the law in the autumn and needs a concession now.
Little Olivia Heary lies in the high dependency unit of the Royal Preston Hospital as her parents plead with the Home Office to allow her stronger cannabis medication.
Just days after Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced doctors will start prescribing products derived from the drug to “patients with exceptional clinical need” by the autumn, mum Jenna says her daughter needs it now.
The condition of the two-year-old, who suffers from a severe form of epilepsy, took a turn for the worse on Sunday night when she had a three-hour seizure and was rushed into hospital.
While Olivia has been improving in recent weeks using cannabis oil as part of a medical trial by an American drug company, the toddler’s sudden deterioration came as a shock to her parents and doctors.
Jenna said: “The dose she is on is very small. But we can’t give her a higher dosage because it is illegal. We could get prosecuted.
“So we are applying for a licence from the Home Office to allow us to do that. We need to get the ball rolling straight away.
“The announcement by the Home Secretary is great news. But we can’t wait until the autumn.”
Olivia is given cannabis oil twice a day to reduce the number and severity of her seizures. Up until the weekend she was having as many as 20 to 30 a day.
As the law stands in the UK, the medication can only contain a maximum of 0.2 per cent of THC, the psychoactive element of cannabis plants which gives recreational users a “high”.
Recent high-profile medical cases involving children like 12-year-old Billy Caldwell have prompted the radical re-think by the Government – a well-publicised campaign by Billy’s mother Charlotte Caldwell forced the Home Office to grant an emergency licence to his doctors to treat him with the drug.
It is this type of licence that Jenna and Olivia’s dad Matthew Botham are pushing for.
“Her condition has gone worse and we are trying our best to see if we can get this licence for a higher dose to be prescribed,” said Jenna.
“I’m reasonable confident we can get it. But hopefully it won’t take long.
“We have been talking to Olivia’s neurologist and she says that if she can get the OK to prescribe it she is willing to do that. I’m sure there are other patients in a similar situation, but the doctor says Olivia will be top of her list.”
Sajid Javid’s announcement at the end of last week that medicinal products derived from cannabis will soon be available on prescription has been welcomed by campaigners who believe the drug has widespread health benefits.
But it will only be available to patients considered to have “exceptional” clinical needs.
Charlotte Caldwell, who hit the headlines when she flew to Canada to get a new supply of cannabis oil for her son Billy, said the Government re-think was “incredible”.
The furore that followed prompted the Government to order a review of the medicinal properties of cannabis and the Chief Medical Officer for England, Prof Dame Sally Davies, concluded it had therapeutic benefits.
As a result it was reclassified as no longer a Schedule 1 drug with no medicinal value, but a Schedule 2 substance which could be controlled for medical use.
The recreational form remains a class B substance.
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