First UK child to be prescribed cannabis

Robin Emerson with his two-year old daughter Jorja Emerson.
Robin Emerson with his two-year old daughter Jorja Emerson.
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A two-year-old girl with severe epilepsy is believed to have become the first child in the UK to be prescribed medical cannabis.

Jorja Emerson, who is from Dundonald in County Down Northern Ireland, was prescribed the medication by a private hospital in London.

The toddler currently suffers up to 30 seizures a day and it is hoped the drug will help reduce the frequency and affects of her epilepsy.

Father, Robin Emerson, 33, believes the treatment is ‘the difference between her living and dying’.

Mr Emerson now hopes her treatment will pave the way for other children to gain access to the drug.

‘When medical cannabis was legalised by the home secretary our hopes were raised. But we were subsequently left devastated when the NHS guidelines were put out. Taken together with recommendations from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) and the British Paediatric Neurologist Association (BPNA), these guidelines were so tight that hardly anyone would be able to secure a prescription,’ explained Mr Emerson.

NHS guidance currently says a decision to prescribe cannabis should only be made where other treatment options have been exhausted.

Although there are other children who are currently receiving medical cannabis treatment in the UK, this is the first time a prescription has been written by a doctor since the drug was rescheduled.

The decision to reschedule cannabis based products for medical use was taken following several high-profile cases, including those of young epilepsy sufferers Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, whose conditions appeared to be helped by cannabis oil.

‘The dam has now been broken. I hope this day paves the way for many other clinicians to have the confidence to prescribe,’ said Mr Emerson.