A UK mother is seeking the return of cannabis oil medicine for her severely epileptic daughter that was seized by border officials last week. Emma Appleby of Aylesham, England had traveled to the Netherlands to purchase cannabis oil for her nine-year-old daughter Teagan, who has a rare chromosomal disorder and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy that causes the girl to have up to 300 seizures per day. But when Appleby returned to her home country on Saturday, the medicine was seized by border officials because she did not have a prescription from a physician in the UK.
Appleby had received a prescription from a doctor in the Netherlands and had paid approximately $6,000 for the medication, using savings and money that she had crowdfunded. She had been unsuccessful in her attempts to receive permission from the UK government to get a prescription at home, saying that “whilst the NHS and the medical professions are having arguments over what constitutes evidence, my child is suffering every day. I am at my wits’ end.”
Appleby secured a prescription for the cannabis oil from a private specialist in the UK on Wednesday and says she hopes the medicine will now be returned by the Home Office, although she hasn’t been given any instructions on how to request that the government do so.
“I’m devastated. I’ve always tried to do the right thing. I’ve jumped through all the hoops but ended up being passed from pillar to post and being met with a flat ‘no’,” Appleby said. “All I want is the best thing for my daughter. To have the medicine taken in this way is deeply upsetting. But I will fight to get it back and fight so that other parents in the same situation as me don’t have to go through this.”
Mum Receives Support from Activist
Medicinal cannabis activist Hannah Deacon, the mother of Alfie Dingley, is supporting Appleby in her effort to obtain cannabis oil for Teagan. Alfie was one of the first UK children to receive a prescription for medical cannabis last year after garnering the support of the public and celebrities including Patrick Stewart. Deacon said on Saturday that the government should change the rules governing the use of cannabis medications.
“Vulnerable people are having to raise money to go abroad, and they need help from the government, rather than an insistence on randomized control trials to prove the efficacy of medical cannabis,” said Deacon. “These are not appropriate for cannabis, a plant with around 400 components. We need observational trials and modern thinking from clinicians and ministers to make these life-changing medicines truly accessible. Our children do not have five years to wait for change to slowly take effect.”
Although Appleby is eager to get the imported medicine back, she is worried about what will happen once it’s gone. She’s hopeful that the government will begin covering the medication for Teagan.
“I’ve only got a three-month supply, so once that’s gone I can’t afford to get another prescription,” she said. “We need the prescription on the NHS as well.”