Wednesday 14 November 2018

It's time to take cannabis supply out of the hands of criminals

The case of Billy Caldwell strengthens the argument for legalising and regulating cannabis use, writes Eoin O'Malley

BATTLE: Charlotte Caldwell, mum of epilepsy sufferer Billy
BATTLE: Charlotte Caldwell, mum of epilepsy sufferer Billy

When a Tyrone boy had his medicinal cannabis confiscated at Heathrow Airport recently, there were howls of outrage. Billy Caldwell suffers from a severe form of epilepsy, and although he'd gone nearly a year without a seizure, he'd had five seizures in less than a week after being denied the cannabis oil he uses to treat the condition.

Some sense prevailed last week and his medicine was returned to Billy's mum, Charlotte, with a licence to use medicinal cannabis. Here, Simon Harris told the Dail he's considering extending access to medicinal cannabis for patients. It is not before time. It's nearly two centuries since Limerickman William O'Shaughnessy introduced cannabis for medicinal purposes to Europe. It helps with chronic pain, reduces nausea for people receiving chemotherapy, and eases muscle spasms.

In its medicinal form, cannabis doesn't normally give the high that recreational users enjoy. And accompanying the suggestion that the rules for medicinal cannabis might be relaxed came the stark warning that taking cannabis for fun still won't be tolerated.

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