Families desperate for the chance to access medicinal cannabis in Northern Ireland are not yet fully covered by the upcoming law change.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on Thursday that he would reclassify medical cannabis in the Autumn.
This will allow doctors to prescribe it in exceptional circumstances under measures Home Office civil servants have nicknamed ‘Billy’s Law’.
But even when the reclassification is complete in Westminster, clinicians in Northern Ireland will be prevented from writing the same prescriptions until Stormont agrees the law changes too.
Roy Beggs, UUP, said: “To see ‘Billy’s Law’ implemented in the UK but not where Billy himself lives is just not acceptable. This is a law change intended for everyone and that includes us here in Northern Ireland.
“Westminster can pass this law and reschedule medicinal cannabis to include us in the change – but they have to be asked to do that. It won’t just happen without a request.
“When the Assembly is functioning, legislative consent motions are passed asking for Northern Ireland to be included in changes being made at Westminster. It’s a good system.
“But the Assembly is not functioning, so the normal way of passing a motion of legislative consent doesn’t exist which means we have to find an other way.”
Mr Beggs believes Northern Ireland could be included in the law change if letters of consent requests were delivered from each Stormont party formally asking to be included in Sajid Javid’s rescheduling.
But he warned: “They may accept that or Westminster may see the lack of access to medicinal cannabis as an other way to apply pressure to get the MLAs back in Stormont and perhaps withhold their support of legislative consent requests by letter.
“But we must try. Charlotte and Billy Caldwell and their campaign team and supporters made history and the benefits of medicinal cannabis are now widely accepted.
“’Billy’s Law’ is for everyone including Northern Ireland and we must find a way to ensure our families will enjoy the protection of it.”
After making history on Thursday with the Home Secretary’s announcement, Charlotte and Billy were yesterday handed the full licence set which allows the 13-year-old to have his medical cannabis administered and stored by his mum.
They collected the life-preserving drops from Altnagelvin Hospital tonight before driving back home to Castlederg, Co Tryone.
Charlotte said: “With the licences through, Billy will have his medication and this legal situation will protect him forever.
“But now the fight starts to get ‘Billy’s Law’ fully implemented in Northern Ireland for every other family who are not yet in our position and don’t have access to this incredible medication.
“So in the spirit of never being idle when presented with an obstacle, we’re arranging to meet with as many Northern Ireland MLAs as we can and requesting Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, joins us.
“In that meeting those politicians will be collectively requesting the UK Government implements in Northern Ireland identical procedures as will benefit families across the rest of the UK.”
Members of the Stormont parties are expected to meet in early August to discuss the matter.
Following the Government’s decision to relax the licensing laws around cannabis-derived medicinal products, Clare Pelham, chief executive officer at Epilepsy Society said: “This is a good and prompt decision by the Home Secretary. And brings our regulatory system into the 21st century. We have world class science and world class research in the UK.
“And we look to the Government to support us with world class regulatory systems which enable us to provide the best possible medical treatment to patients in this country.
“These changes will go a long way towards providing us with a system which is both evidence-based and person-centred. We at the Epilepsy Society welcome it.
“We are very pleased that the Home Secretary has put compassion for people with epilepsy and other conditions at the heart of his thinking on this and acted with commendable despatch.”
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Articles may come from parliamentary reports, various public news feeds and Google News Search. Content is republished here for context. Copyright is respected and remains with the original author at all times. Original Article:https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/new-billys-law-cannabis-needs-14962229