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Parents import cannabis oil for disabled daughter

Emily and Spencer holding baby Clover
Emily and Spencer holding baby Clover Image credit:

Once a month a parcel arrives at the Wiltshire home of Clover Howis containing cannabis, the delivery costs £1,000 a month, but this is not a story about drug abuse.

Howis is a little girl living with Aicardi syndrome, she suffered around 80 seizures a week until her parents, Emily Howis and Spencer Carret, started importing cannabis oil from The Netherlands.

The oil has reduced Clover’s seizures to just one a week, but due to “ongoing concerns” from the government it is being limited in the UK and not available on the NHS.

Emily and Spencer purchased their first dose of CBD cannabis oil over the counter when Clover was four months old, the treatment has changed her life, some weeks she goes without not having a single seizure proving the family’s neurologist wrong.

"They weren't expecting her to be able to walk or talk, or do anything really," Mr Carret told the BBC.

Prescribing cannabis oil for medical purposes was made legal in the UK in 2018 but since then only a few families have been granted the treatment, including Clover’s parents.

Their best hope receiving the oil in the UK – and saving thousands of pounds – is being successful signing up to a medical research trial.

If rejected the parents fear Brexit will put a stop to their monthly dose being shipped from The Netherlands.

A number of professional medical bodies “remain concerned” around the safety of cannabis-based medical products.

A spokesman said: "The NHS is working with the National Institute for Health Research and others to build a high-quality evidence base to determine if patients with refractory epilepsy could benefit from these products."

In March 2021 The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) updated their advice on prescribing medical cannabis saying they do not want to stop doctors offering the treatment to children with severe epilepsy, but does not recommend CBD oils as widespread medication for infants with the condition.

The most well-known cannabis plants are THC and CBD.