UK Kid’s Parents Bring to Court the Fight for Access to Medical Cannabis

Could the dramatic story of a two-year old boy with West’s syndrome serve as a catalyst for change in UK medical cannabis policies?
Written by 
Luca Marani, Cannabis Educator.
|Last Updated:
Legal marijuana laws

Charlie Hughes is a two-year old kid from the United Kingdom who has been battling West’s syndrome throughout his whole, short life. This is a very rare condition that causes severe seizure, up to 100 a day. Although the family tried as many as seven different types of treatment offered by the National Healthcare System (MHS), none of this has been effective. However, medical cannabis has halved his daily attacks. As reported by The Sun, Charlie’s parents, a lot like Charlotte Figi’s, sought and obtained a private medical cannabis oil prescription, and started seeing tangible improvements in their son’s daily life, interaction ability and in his development. However, they will not be able to afford for much longer, given this therapy for their son is costing them between 1000 and 3000 pounds a month.

The challenge

Medical cannabis has been legalised in the United Kingdom since November 2018. Yet, as reported by the BBC, the NHS did not include in its guidelines any positive advice to prescribe cannabis to treat severe forms of epilepsy. In order to protect and enforce their child’s right to medical treatment and to the best achievable quality of life, Charlie’s parents are embarking in a legal quarrel to get him the medical cannabis that he needs. Legally. On the NHS.
The family’s legal team is going to challenge in court the National Heathcare System, which will be basically asked to explain how its guidelines can prevent a kid from accessing what is for him a life-saving medicine, and to articulate how come the legislation decided to ignore the abundant evidence favouring cannabis prescription against treatment-resistant epilepsy. In fact, and this is where the lampant incoherence lies, this is one of the conditions for which the effectiveness of cannabis is more agreed upon.

A potentially historic fight

If the Hughes family won, the result would be an unseen one in UK policy making: never before has a NHS guideline been judged unlawful. If this happened, the whole cannabis prescription system would need to be thought and drafted out pretty much, if not literally, from scratch. And the country’s government would be finally starting to acknowledge the cry for medical help and quality of life that many cannabis patients and their families are very familiar with.

Luca Marani
Luca Marani
Cannabis Educator
Luca Marani is an educator and content creator from Italy. He graduated in 2017 from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, with a Master of Arts in Political Philosophy, writing a dissertation on what was the state of the medical cannabis legislative framework in Spain at the time, and how it affected the rights of the Spanish medical cannabis users community to dignity and quality of life.

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