On Saturday, Emma Appleby, the mother of a 9-year-old girl with chronic epileptic seizures, was stopped by customs officials during a flight from Holland to the UK. Appleby was caught with £4,500 ($5,880 USD) of THC- and CBD–oil capsules she believes may save her daughter’s life.
“I’m really gutted,” Appleby said, according to the BBC. “They just took everything. They knew apparently, they had been notified from social media. They asked me at border control how long we were away for. I thought, ‘They’re asking questions as [if] someone’s notified them.’ Then they asked if I had anything to declare, and there were loads of them waiting, so I knew if I said no, I was going to get myself in deeper, so I just said yes.”
Appleby is a medical cannabis activist based in Kent. Her daughter, Teagan, has been diagnosed with a rare chromosomal disorder and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, an epileptic disorder that is difficult to treat with conventional pharmaceuticals. Some Lennox-Gastaut patients can experience hundreds of seizures in a single day.
Last year, the UK greenlit a medical cannabis program for debilitating or life-threatening conditions, which includes epileptic disorders like Lennox-Gastaut. However, government regulators have not finalized rules concerning which cannabis products will be available by a doctor’s prescription. Many UK doctors and medical organizations also refuse to support medical cannabis use, especially for children.
Furthermore, in Appleby’s case, patients and their guardians require a special government license to import medical cannabis from another country. Appleby did not have the license at the time of the custom’s confiscation.
This isn’t the first time the UK government prevented a sick child from getting medicine. The new medical marijuana program was established after UK police seized CBD products from Billy Caldwell, a 12-year-old epileptic patient. Caldwell, who suffered from 300 seizures a day before his parents learned about medical cannabis, was hospitalized shortly after the police confiscation.
“That a mother of such a sick child as this has been driven to take these desperate measures is a damning indictment of how this policy has been implemented,” said Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi in regard to the Appleby case. “The government did the right thing in changing the law. But everyone involved with the implementation should hang their heads in shame.”
Over the weekend, UK police also announced they may no longer charge individuals for minor non-medical weed offenses, such as possession of small amounts.
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