11-year-old Billy Caldwell is the first person in the UK to receive a prescription for medical marijuana. Due to his uncontrollable epilepsy, Billy can’t treat himself with traditional medication and diet, which his General Practitioner Dr. Brendan O’Hare describes as “unique.”
For this reason, in 2016 Billy began treating himself with cannabis oil where it is legal, in the United States. He then transferred this prescription to O'Hare, his local doctor in Northern Ireland who said, “Whatever the rights and wrongs, we had a child who had benefited and the child’s welfare was paramount. On that basis I issued a prescription.”
Since starting this new treatment, Billy has gone nearly a year, 300 days to be exact, without having a seizure. Before taking the CBD oil, Billy suffered from up to 100 seizures a day, which was severely damaging to his health, because one seizure could kill him. Billy’s mother Charlotte Caldwell also says that the CBD oil has improved his autism, she told the The Independent, as he is now making better eye contact when he communicates, playing with toys, and reading books.
Billy is experiencing such positive results because CBD, or Cannabidiol, is a safe and effective aid in relieving symptoms for ailments that are hard to treat, like Billy's epilepsy. Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the other compound in cannabis, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it does not cause the euphoric high that is typically associated with cannabis.
To celebrate Billy’s success and the support he received from the “Keep Billy Alive” campaign, his family is hosting Billy’s Bud Fest on September 9th in Castlederg, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. So far, Caldwell is surprised by the response the family has received, “We’ve nearly 600 bookings in at the moment for camping alone and then there’ll be people who will just drive down during the daytime as well.”
The event is sponsored by Cannabis Collective UK, Legalise Cannabis NI, Belfast Cannabis Group, and a number of other marijuana organizations. During the festival, Billy will be selling his own personal brand of CBD oil, Billy’s Bud, while guests enjoy the live music, food trucks, comedy, indoor market, camping, and more CBD products.