She has received just one reply so far, from the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, who, in a letter addressing her as “Bridget”, began by saying that cannabis use was detrimental to the mental and physical health of communities.
There have been no new NHS prescriptions for full-extract cannabis oil since the medicinal use of the drug was legalised more than 18 months ago, the Guardian has established.
Prof David Nutt, the former government drugs adviser who is behind Twenty21, a large medical registry now providing free full-extract cannabis oil to patients in the UK suffering from a variety of conditions, to address the block on prescribing, said there was “mounting real-world evidence” of the efficacy of medical cannabis.
Steve Rolles, senior policy analyst at the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, pointed to Germany, Israel, the Netherlands and Canada, where full-extract oil is available through public healthcare systems, and said the UK system was not designed to deal with multi-component plant-based medicines.
“Unless some kind of bespoke regulatory framework can be found that reduces barriers to access, the more risky scenario of unregulated self-medication with illegally sourced supplies will continue,” he said.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), is also assessing Epidiolex's clinical and cost-effectiveness for two forms of epilepsy – Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. It will make a decision about whether, once licensed, it should be prescribed on the NHS as a matter of course.
The NHS does not recommend CBD for any other conditions.
As for whether CBD could turn out to be a salve for the dizzying range of conditions some claim, she says "the future could look very different".
What health claims are being made?
Charlotte Caldwell says she has "hundreds, maybe thousands" of patients and parents contacting her about using CBD – in some cases for severe and chronic conditions.
There are two main compounds found in cannabis – CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Unlike THC, CBD is legal, doesn't make you high and is easily available on high streets and online.
Yet a Google search quickly brings up websites suggesting ditching prescribed anxiety medication for CBD oil.
Only Epidiolex, a CBD-based drug used to prevent seizures, has begun this process. It's close to being licensed and is already being prescribed to NHS patients – 80 as of March – as an unlicensed medicine.