Mother makes call for change in law over controversial drug

Lucy Conrad who lives in Little Paxton, St Neots.

Lucy Conrad who lives in Little Paxton, St Neots. - Credit: Archant

A St Neots mother has called for a change in legislation to help her severely epileptic daughter who has to be taken out of school because council rules mean she isn’t allowed to be given treatment on site.

Lucy Conrad, 14, from Little Paxton, currently attends Samuel Pepys special school in St Neots. She suffers with epilepsy and has tried a number of different treatments over the years to help reduce the number of seizures she has.

However, she started taking legal cannabinoid oil in March and her mother said that the treatment helps to control her seizures.

Cannabinoid, which is also known as CBD, is legal in the UK as long as its tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC) content is less than 0.2 per cent, but it cannot be prescribed by doctors due to it being unlicensed.

Lucy’s mum, Debbie Conrad said: “In 14 years we have tried so many different drugs and diets to help Lucy, and hardly anything has helped.

“We have tried every prescribed anti-epileptic drug available and some have atrocious side effects, including hair loss, vomiting, weight loss, rashes, mood swings, and swellings.

“The drug [CBD] is working for her and her seizures have decreased from hours to minutes each day and she is more ‘switched on’ and enjoying life.

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“I have also had to give up work to look after her as she is not allowed to be in school because the staff aren’t allowed to give her the supplement.”

Cambridgeshire County Council has advised Samuel Pepys not to give Lucy the supplement at school, which means Lucy’s mum has to come and pick her up everyday at midday to take her home to give her the supplement.

Debbie is now questioning the council about whether or not she can give Lucy her supplements at school, or even take her off the premises and do it. She says she has yet to have a response.

She said: “It’s hard because I give her the first dosage at 9am and then she needs her second dose at around lunchtime. Because the staff have been told not to give her treatment I have to then go and pick her up, and take her home.”

The number of people using cannabinoid oil in Britain has increased from 125,000 to 250,000 in the past 12 months, according to the Cannabis Trades Association UK.

On Monday, Holland and Barrett will become the first high street chain to sell CBD infused water in the UK.

There has been an ongoing debate nationally about whether or not CBD should be available on the NHS after mother Charlotte Cladwin called for a revision of the law, having used a similar supplement to treat her 12-year-old son, Billy.

Debbie has written to local councillors and the county council asking that it reconsider its policy not to allow Lucy to have the supplement at school.

She also said that she feels like she is going round in circles because of the stigma around the drug.

Debbie said: “It’s difficult because although the supplement that I give Lucy is legal, there is still a massive stigma around it. I think we need to remember who is suffering here and that’s Lucy.”

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said: “Having looked into this matter at length, including taking advice from health colleagues, and current government guidelines, the position currently is that we would not advocate for schools to administer any unlicensed medicines for children attending their school. This includes cannabinoid oil which is currently unlicensed.

“There have been a number of clinical trials which demonstrate that CBD has a therapeutic effect.

“Last week the Home Office announced a review into the scheduling of CBD for medicinal use. The home secretary confirmed to parliament that if the review identifies significant medical and therapeutic benefits, then the intention would be to reschedule CBD for medicinal use.

“We have been in regular communication with parents and have been continuing to review their case, and will be meeting with them in the coming weeks.”