Coventry & Warwickshire

Cannabis licence considered for Alfie Dingley, 6

Alfie Dingley Image copyright Maggie Deacon/PA Wire
Image caption At one point, Alfie had 3,000 seizures and 48 hospital visits in a year

A licence to allow a boy to legally take cannabis to treat his epilepsy is being considered by the government.

Six-year-old Alfie Dingley, from Kenilworth in Warwickshire, suffers up to 30 violent seizures a day.

The Home Office had denied the family's request for a licence as the drug is illegal in the UK.

But speaking in the House of Lords earlier, Health minister Baroness Williams said "every option is being considered" by ministers.

She said she had a "huge amount of sympathy" for Alfie and his family and that the policing minister and the home secretary "want to explore every option within the current regulatory framework including issuing a licence", under section 30 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

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Alfie's mother, Hannah Deacon, took her son to the Netherlands to take a cannabis-based medication in September.

She said that while there, the medication, prescribed by a paediatric neurologist, saw his seizures reduce in number, duration and severity and he went 24 days without an attack.

Image copyright Maggie Deacon/PA Wire
Image caption Ms Deacon said Alfie's cannabis dose was "very small", just three drops of the oil

His condition is very rare with only nine boys in the world with the condition, she said.

The case had been raised in the Lords a day after an urgent Commons debate was tabled by Conservative MP for Reigate, Crispin Blunt.

Lord Dear, independent crossbencher and former chief constable of the West Midlands, told the debate on Tuesday the current legal classification of the drug as having no therapeutic value had been "roundly rebuffed" by other countries.

Calling on the government to look urgently at the licensing of the drug for medicinal use, he said 12 EU countries, numerous US states, Canada and Israel all allow "under medical supervision licensed use of cannabis".

Baroness Williams added: "We must keep laws like this under review and certainly the World Health Organisation are reviewing cannabis as a whole and the constituent parts of cannabis.

"We are keeping a very close eye on the outcome of that review and we will be taking a view on it in due course."

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