Lisa Quarrell, a former police officer who revealed she had smuggled cannabis into Britain to treat her epileptic son fears that she now faces child protection proceedings after being visited by police.
Her son Cole Thompson, 6, can have up to 16 seizures a day and has had brain surgery. He has not responded to pharmaceuticals. Lisa says cannabis has markedly improved Cole’s quality of life and he is now being prescribed cannabis oil legally by a private London hospital.
A Police Scotland spokesman told BBC Scotland that after a full investigation no criminality had been established. However, he said he could not comment on whether child protection proceedings were under way.
Police requested access to Cole’s medical records. “The police said I had taken an unorthodox approach and they would have to clarify whether there was any criminal element or child protection issue for my kid,” she told BBC Scotland.
Lisa was asked to sign a mandate that allowed the police to start an investigation and permitted them to contact Cole’s doctors and any clinical professionals that were involved with him.
“I agreed because if I didn’t it would just go straight to a child protection investigation,” she said. “It’s terrifying. But there was no choice as far as I was concerned.”
Lisa said she had been told in October that there was “no good outcome” for Cole and in March she was told that doctors “didn’t know how to fix him”.
“The fact that I’ve gone down a different route of alternative medicine and got him fixed, I can’t understand why people wouldn’t be wanting to know more about it and ask me questions rather than criminalising me and demonising me for saving my son’s life,” she said.
“I’m now going to have education, social services, heath, the police all over my life. Social services can now do spot checks in my house to make sure I’m doing what needs to be done for my kids. I don’t have anything to hide. But it’s still not nice. I’ve hardly slept.”
Lisa said she decided to go public with her situation so her family had the chance of a normal life. “What was my alternative? Live like this for the rest of my life? Hide? Scared every time the door goes?”
Speaking about her decision to smuggle the cannabis oil, she said: “There was no choice as far as I was concerned. It was either let my son die or take it into my own hands and fix him while they [NHS and politicians] sort out the red tape.”
Central Scotland MSP Monica Lennon has defended Lisa. “This is not a good use of police time,” she said. “Lisa is a loving, caring mother who has had to fight every step of the way for Cole.
“We really need the Scottish government and the NHS to pull together on this and make sure that children like Cole get access to medicinal cannabis.”
Foreign cannabis companies are setting up in the UK, according to the Telegraph, in anticipation that the country will not be able to resist the profits to be made from a legal market forever.
For example, Canopy Growth, one of the world’s largest cannabis companies, recently bought Wimbledon-based skincare and wellbeing brand This Works for more than £40m. For now it plans to sell CBD products in the UK, but it also owns an Oxford-based company that encourages specialist doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis. In Canada, where Canopy Growth is based, it sells recreational cannabis.
Wayland Group, a Canadian company with a subsidiary that sells cannabis it advertises as “not for the weak”, recently bought a small company in the UK it plans to use to import medicinal cannabis.
Crispin Blunt, a former Tory minister chairing the parliamentary group on drug reform, and who last year set up a lobbying firm funded by overseas cannabis corporations, said this week that he believed cannabis would be fully legalised in the UK in around five years’ time.
“Five years is the time I’m going to aim for,” he said. “I’m the first Conservative to be the co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, and it reflects the fact that this conversation is now coming into the mainstream of politics.”
Blunt’s Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group is now wholly owned by investors and raised around £400,000 in February. He no longer controls or owns any shares in the company but remains chairman of the board of directors, some of whom are executives of major Canadian cannabis corporations with an interest in expanding into the UK.
Blunt, who is supporting Boris Johnson over Jeremy Hunt for the Tory leadership, said he had “not wasted any time” in discussing the group with “the potential leaders of my party”.
He said the UK should try to take a “decent slug of the global market” in cannabis. “The public benefit from the United Kingdom pushing on with the science and supporting research could be huge.”
Jersey Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham expects the cultivation of medicinal cannabis to start next year.
“Our aim is to become a very highly regulated jurisdiction for the production of medicinal cannabis,” he said. “We’re now in the process of considering license applications which we hope to be complete between the end of the summer and early autumn.
“It’s important that licences are issued this year so the infrastructure can start to be built. I would envisage production, cultivation, extraction, manufacturing to start next year. But of course it’s a new industry globally it’s going to be evolving for years. That’s why it’s so important for Jersey to be one of the first into the market, so we can establish ourselves early.”
Farnham is the Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture.
Jersey’s government has made cannabis part of a 20 year plan to ensure the continued growth of the economy. A medicinal cannabis company that has applied for planning permission to grow crops in St Mary is expected to set up at Le Pepiniere Farm, where the company would grow medicinal cannabis for research purposes.