Undoubtedly, you’ll remember the incredible story of Billy Caldwell and his mother, Charlotte, who managed to convince the government to change the laws surrounding cannabis being legally prescribed as medicine in the UK back in 2018. Their inspiring and unrelenting desire to make the government see sense never ceased to amaze, and now they’ve undertaken an incredible feat in the hope of helping many others to gain safe, legal access to medicinal cannabis. Both of them believe that their personal triumph should not be an isolated story of success.
Billy and his mother both want nothing more than to give hope to those who could benefit tremendously from further steps towards widespread and affordable access to cannabis-based prescriptions. Although they have been fortunate enough to benefit hugely from the changes they helped to usher in, Billy feels very strongly that the battle is far from over. As long as others are left either unable to afford the expensive legal channels or find themselves denied access and left with no other option than the black market and the associated legal consequences that come along with it (not to mention the obvious issues surrounding having to deal with unsavoury and unscrupulous individuals who often seek little more than profit at any expense), Billy and Charlotte will continue to campaign for even more significant changes to the law.
At the time of writing, Charlotte and Billy are walking 1,000 miles from their hometown in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, all the way to Westminster, London, where they hope to meet with representatives from a multitude of government bodies in order to present them with academic research into the efficacy of cannabis as medicine. Currently, there continues to be a shocking lack of research into medical applications for cannabis in the UK, in spite of the fact that the UK government have provided licenses to companies who cultivate cannabis to make medicines that are exported globally. Without the involvement and assistance of the government, it is impossible for further progress to be made and the efforts to expand the scope of prescribed cannabis will continue to stall as thousands of patients are left to suffer unnecessarily. Among others, they hope to meet with the current Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, so that Billy can share his story and show people exactly how much his life has changed over the past few years.
Charlotte Caldwell has been working tirelessly with a growing number of people to build up a team that is ready for action if they are given the green light. She is politely calling on Matt Hancock to sit down with her and her son, so that they can ask him to seriously consider moving forward immediately with reforms that would allow an increased number of patients to access legally prescribed cannabis. Their main aim is to push for data-driven research into human trials of cannabis extracts to prove what many of us already firmly believe to be true: cannabis has incredible potential to help so many of us. Unless the government allow this to move forward, researchers cannot conduct real world studies and the government instead has to rely on outdated and redundant information when developing policies.
In order to help with raising funds through donations and other fundraising activities, the Caldwells have set up the ‘I Am Billy Foundation’, a charity whose aim is to offer financial support, education and guidance to those in the UK who find that their voices are unheard or ignored. In the near future, the foundation hopes to offer people the chance to not only gain legal access to cannabis for the treatment of a variety of conditions but also to help cover the costs of procuring and fulfilling prescriptions once they are legally allowed to do so. If it is allowed to go ahead, this will be the first foundation of its kind and will support the NHS directly by dealing with clinically critically ill individuals on a case-by-case basis.
Catching up with Charlotte at the 155Km mark (approaching 250,000 steps roughly so far), she explained that Billy is enjoying the challenge and loves being outdoors at the best of times. To hear her speak so proudly of his progress and to learn how driven and motivated Billy is to help other people is truly wonderful. His life now is so far removed from what it once was, having just achieved one year completely seizure free, and it was three years to the day (June 9th) that he had his medicine cruelly taken from him by the HM Customs and Revenue border force. It was this event that led to Sajid Javid to intervene and take decisive action to ensure that Billy didn’t have to suffer needlessly, but there is still so much more that needs to be done.
As they make their way across the UK a number of pit stops have been pencilled in so that they can raise awareness of their cause and meet with like-minded individuals who support their aims. In the last few days they have stopped off in Jersey, to catch up with representatives from Northern Leaf at their facilities on 5th June 2021; CEO Campbell Dunlop said “We have been delighted to welcome Charlotte and Billy to the island. We have long followed Billy’s story and we are honoured to support the campaign. Northern Leaf has the capacity to support the needs of patients, and we commit to working with the relevant bodies to ensure patients are receiving the cannabis medicines that they need.”
Northern Leaf is only the second licensed medical cannabis cultivator in the UK based in Jersey, and they have declared that they have the immediate capacity to support the expansion of medical cannabis access on the island.
The news will be met warmly by patients on the island, of which there are believed to be 750 across the Channel Islands, with a Jersey-based supplier key to lowering costs and easing access for those suffering.
Jersey’s progressive medical cannabis laws could also provide a boost to the economy in a post-Covid world, with the UK currently the world’s largest exporter of cannabis for medical purposes.
Northern Leaf, who have supported Caldwell’s campaign from its launch, have also backed the “I am Billy” clinic that Caldwell is lobbying ministers to create. Under Caldwell’s plans, patients would join a clinical trial that would provide doctors the evidence required to more freely prescribe the plant-based medicine.
Charlotte and Billy also had the opportunity to meet with Senator Lyndon Farnham who subsequently spoke publically about his surprise at the ‘astounding benefit and impact that medical cannabis has had on Billy’s life.’ Charlotte expressed huge appreciation for his genuine interest, care and consideration for Billy’s situation and she went on to talk about how humbled she was by his sincerity. Having learned more about Billy’s courageous heart and his mother’s unwavering drive to improve the life of her son and the lives of others, he even went so far as to suggest that Jersey should be pushing for changes to legislation and free cannabis prescriptions for any patient in need.
We’re sure you’ll agree that this journey is another beautiful chapter in the lives of two amazing human beings (along with all the phenomenal people who work alongside and support them). If you want to follow Billy’s journey or would like to donate to this incredible cause, have a look for them online on their Facebook page ‘Keep Billy Alive’, head over to their main fundraising page on JustGiving or look at the links below for more information.
We wish them all the best and we’ll speak with them again at the end of their epic trek to discuss their success.
Written by PSY-23
Image credit – Stephen Moore Photography