A British mother has had her daughter's medical marijuana confiscated by the UK Border Force for the second time, even though she is authorized to possess medical cannabis.
Last year, UK officials decided to let select patients have legal access to medical marijuana. However, certain forms of the medication remain largely unobtainable for UK patients, including cannabis oils, which advocates say are more effective and less expensive than other medications. That situation has forced some people to look beyond the country's borders to get their medication.
Those people include Emma Appleby has done. Since receiving a medical marijuana recommendation from a private clinic for her young epileptic daughter, Appleby has been traveling to the Netherlands to get her daughter's medication and bringing it back home to the UK.
But, on her most recent trip Appleby had a month's supply of the medication worth £2,500 confiscated by UK Boarder Force when she got off the plane.
"There seems no end to the stress and trauma of trying to access the medical cannabis that I have proved beyond doubt transforms the life of my daughter Teagan," Appleby, told The Guardian.
This is the second time Appleby has had her daughter's medical marijuana confiscated by border officials. In early April, officials seized a three-month supply of the medication before it was returned a few days later. At the time Appleby was told she would need a costly importer's license in order to continue bringing the medication into the country, something she said she simply can't afford.
"I am just a mum wanting to do the best for my child, not a company importing on a commercial basis," Appleby said.
On her latest trek to the Netherlands, Appleby was accompanied by Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi, who has been a vocal supporter of improving access to medical marijuana in the UK and has been critical of the Border Force's insistency on seizing medication. Antoniazzi has called on the UK National Health Service (NHS) to step up and allow more patients to access medical marijuana through the country's public healthcare system.
"Emma [Appleby] should not have to get a private prescription and have to cope with going abroad to get the medicine with all the bureaucracy this entails," said Antoniazzi. "She should be able to get it on the NHS. Emma has enough to do caring for her very sick daughter."
Still, a government spokesperson says the Border Force was simply doing their job and that there are legal means for patients to get medical marijuana in the UK.
"Border Force has a duty to enforce the law and stop the unlawful import of controlled substances into the UK," said the spokesperson.
"There is an established regulatory system which enables the importation of these products to the UK via pharmaceutical wholesalers, so they can be dispensed to UK resident patients prescribed these products by a specialist doctor."
But, as Appleby said, if there was an easier way to get the medication her daughter needs, she would be doing it.
"I am exhausted and shattered but I've seen how this medicine transforms my daughter's life. I have to find a way forward. The NHS just won't prescribe. This is unforgivably cruel and unfair."