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Paediatric epilepsy cannabis crisis: Prof. Barnes returns to practise and highlights need for change


child looking out of window

Prof. Mike Barnes has revealed to Cannabis Health that after retiring his practice in DATE, he has returned to the UK specialist register to prescribe to children with existing prescriptions as a short-term solution to the crisis in paediatric epilepsy cannabis prescribing.


Speaking to Cannabis Health, Prof. Barnes said,

“I am pleased that I am able to help these children but it is only putting a sticking plaster over the problem. The real problem here is the intransigent attitude of the BPNA. I simply do not understand their objection to allowing children to at least try cannabis when all else has failed. What is stopping them? Pride? Arrogance? Inability to admit they are wrong? I hope eventually their attitude changes and they can work to help children rather than failing them.”

We explored the crisis in medical cannabis prescribing for children with epilepsy, described as a life or death situation for some children, in detail in a blog post in July.


The lack of NHS prescriptions is due to three main factors:

  • Restrictive Guidance from NICE

  • Lack of support from the BPNA

  • No NHS funding pathways exist


Maple Tree continues to highlight this appalling situation, with Hannah Deacon sharing this week,

"I've had conversations with two families just this week, whose children are gravely ill and hospitalised. These children can't access licensed cannabinoid medicine, let alone unlicensed cannabis, despite being in palliative care. They have a condition that doesn’t give you a long life expectancy, and I am still shocked by the lack of support within the NHS for prescribing a cannabinoid medicine.
These [parents] are scared. They're worried about upsetting their doctors. They don't want to fall out with their doctors. They don't want to break down relationships, which are very important when you've got a very sick child. Their MPs are not responsive enough. There's not enough action. And this is going on all the time around us for many, many families.
The law was changed by children in the UK, and now our children are being forgotten. We need to keep fighting for these kids. There is no reason why unlicensed cannabis medicine shouldn't be available on the NHS.”



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