Healthcare news

Sophia Gibson granted medicinal cannabis licence

Sophia Gibson at home in Newtownards with mum Danielle. The Belfast trust applied to an expert doctor-led panel to access medicinal cannabis for the little girl. Picture by Hugh Russell.

A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD girl from Co Down has been granted the first long-term licence for the use of medicial cannabis in the UK.

Sophia Gibson, from Newtownards, has been granted the licence by an expert panel established by the British government to advise on applications from senior clinicians to prescribe cannabis-based medicines.

The Clifton Special School pupil, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome, suffered a catastrophic seizure earlier this week and was placed on life support at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. 

Her condition later improved but her mother Danielle Davis told The Irish News that she urgently needed access to medicinal cannabis.

"As a mother I just feel so horrible because I know there is something out there that can help Sophia, and if I was to bring it into this country, I am classed as a criminal," she said.

"This cannot keep happening.

"It will come to the day where I am visiting a headstone and not a hospital, and I pray to God that doesn't happen."

The Home Office confirmed it had received two applications for Sophia, which the panel has agreed to consider as one.

Recommendations from the panel are given to the Department of Health Northern Ireland to consider as licensing decisions are devolved.

Last week, Billy Caldwell from Castlederg, Co Tyrone, was granted a licence to be treated with medicinal cannabis.

He suffers from a severe form of epilepsy. His mother Charlotte says the medication helps to control his seizures.

The use of medicinal cannabis is currently strictly limited in the UK.

However that is currently under review by the Home Office.

But Home Secretary Sajid Javid has stressed the drug would remain banned for recreational use.

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