By Peter Hutcheon and Una Murphy
NORTHERN IRELAND’S councils have been urged to take forward the campaign for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis by Derry City and Strabane District Council.
Councillors also called on the Department of Health in Northern Ireland to explore licensing options for medicinal cannabis and for the UK Home Office to withdraw prohibition of its use.
The councillors’ unanimous support for a new law permitting the use of medicinal cannabis follows the emergency licence granted to 12-year-old Billy Caldwell from Castlederg, Co Tyrone for the drug, after he had been admitted to hospital in a critical condition having suffered multiple seizures.
Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride is leading a panel of experts, set up by the government, after Billy’s mother Charlotte had cannabis oil confiscated when she attempted to bring it into the UK for her son.
The panel is a temporary measure while the UK’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies carries out a review into whether cannabis should be made available for therapeutic use.
Earlier this year VIEWdigital reported on a major conference in Belfast in which Labour Baroness Meacher backed the campaign to legalise cannabis for medicial use. She said that billions of pounds could be saved by the NHS which is spent on hospital stays and GP appointments if cannabis was legalised for medicial purposed in the UK, similar to 11 European countries and 20 US states and Canada