After travelling to America to see a specialist consultant, Charlotte was referred to a medical marijuana specialist, completely changing her and Billy’s life. Charlotte told us how the family first came to try medical cannabis:
“We didn’t actively set out to search for cannabis oil, I just wanted to stop the seizures, which had become uncontrollable. Billy was suffering from up to 100 seizures a day at this point.
“We couldn’t access any treatment in the UK, so I took Billy to LA where a specialist paediatric doctor referred him to a medical cannabis doctor. That was actually our first contact with cannabis.”
Asked whether she was doubtful about the recommendation to try a drug which the British Government views as having ‘no medicinal value,’ Charlotte explained:
“I wasn’t sceptical, no. But when you have to watch your child suffer that amount of seizures a day, and when someone tells you they have a solution, you have to at least try it!”
Billy’s epilepsy immediately began to improve. The life-threatening seizures decreased in number.
“It was truly amazing, and he is continuing to fight the condition, with the help of cannabis,” Charlotte told, us, explaining how medical cannabis has helped her son.
“There’s been so many improvements. He’s now able to make eye contact, retain his balance, he’s walking better, getting up and down stairs, but most importantly, he’s seizure free! It’s been 256 days since his last one!
“I was recently able to buy Billy normal shoes for the first time, instead of his specialist boots. It’s the small things, which you may take for granted, which are huge milestones for us.”
Charlotte appearing on ITV’s This Morning
Unfortunately, staying in America, away from your family and friends takes its toll, both financially and emotionally. The family was forced back to Ireland:
“We were completely on our own, away from our family. We were in LA for 8 months on the medical cannabis programme; micro-dosing, low doses of cannabis throughout the day, But the cost of staying in LA was too much, so had to find a way home.”
When one door closes, another opens. Being forced to return to Ireland, in turn, forced Charlotte to find a doctor in Ireland who would help, paving the way for history to be made. After contacting their local GP, Dr Brendan O’Hare, Billy became the first person to be prescribed CBD oil on the NHS.
The cannabis oil which Billy is prescribed, via the NHS, contains no THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid which is still banned within the British Isles, with a concentration of isolated CBD, a legal cannabinoid which has already proven to have several significant medicinal properties.
This single prescription may hold the potential to change the future of medical cannabis in the UK, at least in the way the British, both the public and politicians, view the drug’s potential medical value. While cannabinoid-based medications already exist in the UK and are available on the NHS, in the form of Sativex (a cannabinoid tincture used for pain, particularly for MS), a patient has never been prescribed CBD oil before.
Charlotte Cadwell purchasing first legal CBD oil on NHS
Cannabidiol (CBD) products were legalised and reclassified for medicinal late last year, leading to a boom in the CBD market. Clearly, the alternative medicine is already proving popular, so much so, that Forbes reported that the CBD market will grow to a $2.1 billion market in consumer sales by 2020.
To attribute the blooming national success of CBD products in the UK to one young boy in Northern Ireland could be viewed as grandiose, but Billy has certainly had a significant impact on how the Irish and British view cannabis when used for medicinal purposes.
Success stories, like Billy’s and Callie and Deryn Blackwell’s, show the public just how powerful and life-changing cannabis can be as a medicine. They prove to the public that cannabis is not just the drug of “lazy stoners” (despite a recent study finding cannabis use actually improves cognitive function). Simply put, Billy and his mother are helping to remove the dangerous stigma attached to medical marijuana.
Charlotte told us how the public reaction to the family’s heroic story had received had been more than positive:
“There’s been no bad reaction at all.
“In fact, people have been stopping me in street, middle aged people, young, old, all kinds, all talking about CBD!
“Billy’s story has really changed peoples thinking on cannabis, he’s removing the stigma. He’s become an advocate for cannabis, on both sides, both recreational and medicinal.
“He’s only 11, but he’s inspired so many people already, I’m so proud of him! I’m Utterly privileged that he chose me to be his mummy! The journey has been incredible!”