Little girl could leave the UK after losing access to medical cannabis

22nd November 2021

The family of a severely ill child could be forced to leave the UK after her doctor recently retired. Non-specialist GPs still can’t prescribe medical cannabis three years after legalisation in the UK, leaving many of Dr Adelaida Martinez’s former patients without a cannabis prescription.

According to a report in Metro, Jorja Emerson, a little girl from Belfast, had had as many as 30 epileptic seizures before she became one of the first to be given prescribed medical cannabis in the country.

Prior to receiving a prescription for medical cannabis, Jorja’s condition meant that she was unable to move or even lift her head off the pillow. Her father, Robin Emerson, claims that medical cannabis saved her life.

However, Jorja is now once again in immense danger, as the recent retirement of the specialist clinician that wrote her prescription has retired. Current legislation means that only some specified doctors can prescribe medical cannabis and the vast majority of patients have to access the products through private clinics.

She’s now left with only enough of her medical cannabis product for one more week.

Jorja’s dad, Robin Emerson told Metro: “We’re out of options. We’re talking about all sorts of things we may have to do as a family, which could include going to Canada.

“I shouldn’t have to go and live in exile, I shouldn’t have to go and track someone down who’s willing to prescribe it.

“If that’s what I have to do that’s what I have to do – Jorja’s not going to be going back into a hospital – I have to get this situation sorted.”

It has been widely reported over recent weeks that, since the legalisation of medical cannabis in November 2018, only three prescriptions have been issued through the NHS.

The inaccessibility of medical cannabis is a real problem. There are an estimated two million people who would benefit from this life-changing medicine.

Professor Mike Barnes, one of the most influential and vocal cannabis campaigners and advocates in the UK, believes that the biggest problem is a lack of education in the medical industry.

He said: “I think there’s absolutely one thing to do, and that educates doctors. There is a massive amount of ignorant about the plant in the medical profession.

“[The problem is the] general attitude of the medical profession because of the stigma associated with cannabis. There’s a certain arrogance among doctors.

“I’d put education as a first priority, and the second and the third.”

Jorja’s case is the same. Even though she was granted medical cannabis before, she can’t be given the medicine by other doctors. Her parents talked to other doctors who would be willing to prescribe medical cannabis, but they are just not allowed to.

How is this possible?

Robin Emerson is calling on Sajid Javid – not Health Secretary – who pushed for the rescheduling of cannabis as Home Secretary, to finish the job he started over three years ago.

Mr Emerson said: “Sajid Javid was the one who changed this law, and now he’s Health Secretary, and I’m asking him to carry through to the next stage what should have happened, and that’s for patients to actually get access.

“This isn’t a debate over whether Jorja and these children should or shouldn’t have medical cannabis – that decision has already been made.

“The bottom line is Jorja dies without her medication – whatever long-term effects that may or may not be there further down the line are irrelevant – because right now her medication keeps her alive.”

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