GW Pharmaceuticals, a company whose largest investor is UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s husband, Philip May, has received FDA approval for Epidiolex, a new cannabis derived drug to treat childhood epilepsy. The announcement comes just days after the Home Office relaxed the UK’s strictly controlled ban on the medication for two children suffering from related conditions.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid issued a licence for a batch of cannabis oil, which is illegal in the UK, to treat Billy Caldwell, who suffers from violent epileptic seizures. Shortly after the move, Alfie Dingley was also granted a license for the oil, to treat his epilepsy. Alfie had previously been denied the medication.

The Home Office licenses were issued in the middle of June, with FDA approval of GW’s new medicine being announced on the 25th June, in a GW press release aimed at London and California.  The approval for Epidiolex would have been given before the 25th.

FDA approval means that the drug can be purchased within the 30 current states in the US which allow medical marijuana once the chemical compound within the medication gets its classification status. California was the first state to allow the consumption of cannabis for medicinal purposes, which it did in 1996. It also has the largest maximum limit for possession in the US.

GW’s move to include London in the press release is not an accident. Epidiolex is under review by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and a decision on whether to recommend approval is likely to be made at the start of 2019. The UK government is also preparing a consultation on the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The timeline for the cannabis medication’s production and approval raise serious questions about whether the government has been involved in insider dealing, which is illegal in the UK:

2016 – Theresa May wins the general election
May’s husband owns the majority share in the world’s largest producer of cannabis, GW Pharmaceuticals
2017 – Victoria Atkins Becomes Parliamentary Under Secretary – despite almost no government experience 
Atkins’ husband owns British Sugar – The company that produces the main ingredient GW uses for its cannabis medication
2018 – Atkins Is Promoted To Home Office Minister
June 2018 – The Home Office seize cannabis medication from a child at the airport, and then return it after the press are alerted to the story
16 June 2018 – The Home Office starts to make exceptions for children who need cannabis oil to treat epilepsy
25 June 2018 – GW Pharmaceuticals announces the FDA has approved cannabis medication it has made, to treat childhood epilepsy
The cannabis medication is now being reviewed by a European body, whilst the government considers making cannabis medication legal in the UK.
Early 2019 – GW Pharmaceuticals finds out if their cannabis medication  has been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA)

Researching Reform wrote about GW Pharmaceuticals last month, when it was revealed that several husbands of senior government officials, including Theresa May and Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins, had substantial interests in GW, whose chairman is a conservative party donor.  Disgraced Family Court psychiatrist George Hibbert is also an investor in the pharmaceutical company.

Very many thanks to Janie Doe for sharing the press release with us.

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