11th May 2021
By Roland Sebestyén
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Medical cannabis campaigner, Charlotte Caldwell, has called on the government to back her new campaign to make medical cannabis available for free to those in need in the UK.

Ms Caldwell has long been fighting for medical cannabis reform in the country. She claims that the drug has saved her child, Billy, who was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy and suffering from numerous seizures a day.

As Canex reported last year, Billy became the first child in the UK to receive an unlicensed cannabis-based medicine through the NHS. Last weekend he celebrated his first year being seizure-free.

However, Ms Caldwell said, “the story isn’t over yet [as] there are thousands of Billy’s out there still and many other patients who would significantly benefit from cannabis medicines.”

She, therefore, set up a new campaign, “I am Billy”, to call for the UK’s first Real-World Evidence Controlled study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, which will see patients with medical conditions receive their medicine for free.

Ms Caldwell has also launched the “I am Billy” foundation, which will raise money to support those who are severely ill but unable to join the proposed trial.

She said: “Myself and Billy are delighted to share these bold plans with the world. I am in contact with hundreds of patients daily who are still stuck in limbo – they need a prescription, but they can’t afford it.

“By working with our partners, we want to help patients and create long term solutions through an RWE controlled study.”

A recent YouGov poll showed that 1.4 million people in the UK are currently self-medicating with illicit ‘street bought cannabis.

Ms Caldwell is calling for close “constructive collaboration” with the Department of Health and Social Care and has today requested a meeting with officials and research bodies.

The study would be designed with government and regulatory bodies to ensure that the data would be acceptable to NICE or the NHS.

A clinic has offered to support the campaign and has offered to run an RWE controlled study on a not-for-profit basis if the NIHR offer the requisite funding required – likely to be millions of pounds.

Despite medical cannabis being legal since 2018, campaigners say there is no ongoing, government-funded clinical research into the efficacy of medical cannabis, despite calls from the NIHR.

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