Mother has epileptic son’s cannabis oil seized at Heathrow

The mother of a boy suffering from severe epilepsy has had cannabis oil confiscated from her at Heathrow Airport after she brought the product from Canada to treat him.

Charlotte Caldwell flew into the UK with a consignment of the banned oil which she insists helps her 12-year-old son Billy cope with his condition. 

British customs officers seized the oil this afternoon, prompting Ms Caldwell to vow to return to Toronto and keep trying to bring the treatment to the UK.

Charlotte Caldwell and her epileptic son Billy at Heathrow today, after customs officers seized cannabis oil she says he should be given in the UK to treat his condition

The mother, from Northern Ireland, said: ‘It’s a very sad day in 2018 that us parents who have children with his absolutely brutal condition, epilepsy, that we have to flee our own country to get medicine for our children.’

Asked what she would do next, she replied: ‘I’ll just go back to Canada and I’ll get more because my son has a right to have his anti-epileptic medicine in this country.’

She described the customs officers who seized the oil as ‘absolute gentlemen’, adding: ‘They were very conflicted about removing it, one of them had tears in his eyes.’

She was not cautioned by border officials, Sky News reported. 

Ms Caldwell insists the oil dramatically improves her son's condition and wants him to be given the treatment in the UK

Ms Caldwell insists the oil dramatically improves her son’s condition and wants him to be given the treatment in the UK

The families of eight other children with epilepsy who supporting her campaign met her at the airport to show their support.

Ms Caldwell insisted they would continue campaigning to have the oil made available in Britain.

She said: ‘We will not stop, we are not going to stop. We are not going to give up. We have love, hope and faith for our kids. We are going to get the medicine for our children so they might as well give it to us.

‘I’m horrified that they have removed it.’

Billy became the first patient in Britain to be prescribed cannabis-based medication on the NHS after enduring up to 100 seizures a day and routinely ending up in hospital.

He was originally given the treatment by a doctor in the US, where it is legal in the majority of states. Ms Caldwell said it rapidly stopped Billy’s seizures and drastically improved his quality of life.

But the single mother from Castlederg, County Tyrone, was left distraught last month when the Home Office told her family doctor to stop doling out the drug or face disbarment.

She said today that she is planning to meet Home Office minister Nick Hurd later today to discuss her son’s case.

She added: ‘It’s Billy’s anti-epileptic medication that Nick Hurd has taken away, it’s not some sort of joint full of recreational cannabis, it is his anti-epileptic medication that he has taken off me at the airport today.’

What are the laws on the medicinal use of cannabis and cannabis oil? 

Cannabis products containing THC (the chemical that intoxicates users of the drug) are illegal in Britain under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act.

Campaigners argue this muddles recreational and medical use, but Ministers are wary of reform amid concerns over mental health. 

But the laws on the medical use of marijuana were liberalised in Canada in 2001 and the drug prescribed for Billy Caldwell is made by Tilray, a British Columbian manufacturer.

Doctors who back the use of the oil say it would be impossible to get high from it and since it is an oil, the THC cannot be separated out.