Will the UK government approve the use of medical cannabis for six-year-old Alfie Dingley? Alfie suffers up to 150 seizures per month due to a rare form of epilepsy, his parents say, and cannabis oil is the only thing that’s been able to help his condition.
Hannah Deacon and Drew Dingley, the boy’s parents,Â submitted a petition with more than 380,000 signatures to the government on Tuesday (March 20), hoping that Alfie will be able to legally access cannabis oil.
The family, from Kenilworth in Warwickshire, has seen the effect that cannabis oil has on Alfie. They saw a â€śdramaticâ€ť improvement in his condition after administering cannabis oil they obtained from the Netherlands; he had gone down to one, less severe seizure in a month, according to the BBC.
Alfieâ€™s father, Drew, said the family is asking for a â€śmedical-grade product, made under laboratory conditions, which is bottled and prescribed in the way any painkiller is.â€ť
But cannabis is prohibited in the United Kingdom, and circumventing the law isnâ€™t an option for the Dingleys. â€śI donâ€™t want to break the law by going to Holland and bringing his medical cannabis into the UK illegally,â€ť said his mother Hannah. â€śAnd why should I have to do that?â€ť
The UKâ€™s Home Office previously rejected the familyâ€™s request to allow Alfie to use cannabis oil, but after meeting with the family, said they are now â€śexploring every option.â€ť
Among Alfieâ€™s many supporters are Sir Richard Branson and Sir Patrick Stewart. Both have expressed their support for legal cannabis.
Actor and English expat, Sir Patrick Stewart, is able to use a topical cannabis spray for his arthritis pain as a registered patient in California. â€śI have been registered for medical marijuana in California for over three years and have found it immensely beneficial for my arthritis,â€ť he said, according to the Telegraph. â€śI had to have eight steroid injections in my fingers and knuckles, which was about as painful as anything one could imagine, because medical cannabis is not available [in England].â€ť
The actor met with Alfieâ€™s family and helped deliver the petition on Tuesday. â€śHow could one not support Alfie? Hearing what his life has been and the benefits given to him by being able to use medical marijuana. There has never been a stronger case for the legalization of medical marijuana,â€ť said Stewart.
While the family waits for the governmentâ€™s decision, Alfieâ€™s father says his condition is â€śworsening.â€ť
â€śThis isnâ€™t a time for bureaucracyâ€”this is a time for compassion,â€ť said his mother. â€śItâ€™s his human right to be well.â€ť
About 17 U.S. states have passed laws that specifically allow the use of cannabidiol (CBD), usually in oil form, usually for the treatment of debilitating epilepsy/seizures in children.
One example is Haleighâ€™s Hope Act in Georgia, named for Haleigh Cox, the five-year-old patient who suffered hundreds of seizures per day, whose future was uncertain, until her family moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and placed her on a cannabis oil regimen.
Janea Cox, Haleighâ€™s mother, told CNN that her daughter is now â€śthriving, sheâ€™s healthy, sheâ€™s happy.â€ť