The mother of a young boy with severe epilepsy is calling on the U.K. government to provide access to medical cannabis for her son, with hopes that people around the world will join the call for change.
Sarah Sugden, from the city of Hull in East Yorkshire, has been trying to gain approval from the U.K.’s National Health Service to provide a medical cannabis prescription for her three-year-old son Isaac. Isaac has a severe form of
“It’s just become so political,”
In an attempt to cut through all the red tape, Sugden has started a petition calling on Health Secretary Sajid Javid to help her son. In 2018, Javid, who was Home Secretary at the time, announced that cannabis-based medicines would be made available to some patients. After receiving advice from medical experts, Javid said that medicinal cannabis products would be rescheduled under U.K. drug laws and clinical specialists would be permitted to prescribe them for patients “with an exceptional clinical need.”
But since then, the NHS has only approved a few prescriptions for medical cannabis on a case-by-case basis. Sugden’s request, including an appeal to an exceptional circumstances panel, was denied.
“It has worked for hundreds of children in the same situation as Isaac with rare epilepsies,” she said. “Why not try it?”
Few Options for Patients and Families
Hull MP Karl Turner has written to Javid, asking for him to take action for Isaac and the thousands of families unsuccessfully trying to obtain medical cannabis for their ill children. In the meantime, Sugden has also been unsuccessful securing a prescription from a private clinician, which would require her to pay for the medicine herself. Traveling to the Netherlands is also a possibility, although one that carries its own challenges and risks.
“At the moment, with the way it is, I would have to go abroad to get it, then break the law bringing it back,” Sugden said. “It would be confiscated and I’d have to explain the situation, which would be incredibly stressful. As a mum, I’m going to do anything it takes. We seem to have lost all common sense and the Government needs to intervene to say to doctors, ‘it’s okay to prescribe this medication – it’s completely legal.’”
So far, Sugden’s petition has garnered more than 80,000 signatures from people joining the call for relief for Isaac. She invites others who wish “to get a fair system for treatment” to join her in signing the petition.
“I just want him to have that opportunity to have a quality of life,”
Sugden has also set up a