Back in 2018, when a young epileptic patient named Billy Caldwell was denied permission to consume cannabis, his condition worsened, and he had a sudden seizure episode after about 300 days. Doctors had prescribed cannabis to him, which was very instrumental in curtailing these seizure attacks. However, after government orders, the abrupt stoppage of cannabis intake had a detrimental impact on his health.
This issue was raked up in the parliament by several MPs. Mr. Dan Poulter, a former health minister, was at the forefront of this campaign. Dan Poulter came into the limelight after this incident, as he played an active role in creating awareness about the medical uses of cannabis. Since then, he has been vocal on this issue and frequently puts forward the demand for easing the curbs on CBD consumption for therapeutic usage.
Education And Parliamentary Career
Dan Poulter is a member of the British Conservative Party and became a member of parliament in 2010. He is a psychiatrist by profession and has also served as an undersecretary in the Department of Health. During his term, he represented Central Suffolk and North Ipswich. Originally hailing from Beckenham in Kent, Poulter attended the University of Bristol to attain his law degree. However, his career saw a sharp turn from when he decided to pursue medicine and went to King’s College London for his MBBS.
As a junior doctor, Dan Poulter worked in the obstetrics and gynecological medicine department. In 2006, while working in the Mental Health field, he met David Cameron, who convinced him to join the Conservative Party. Dan Poulter gradually went up through the ranks and got a ticket to contest from the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich constituency. He won the election by more than 20,000 votes and then assumed office soon after. When his term as the Health Minister ended in 2015, he continued working as a psychiatrist and became a Royal College of Psychiatrists member in 2018.
A highlight of his career was when he gave his ‘life-saving’ medical advice to fellow Conservative party MP Guy Opperman in Parliament and told him to visit a neurologist as soon as possible. He said that there were some abnormal signs that he could identify. It later turned out that Guy Opperman was diagnosed with a Brain Tumor. However, due to the timely intervention, the tumor was removed successfully, and his prognosis was much better. Although an apolitical incident, it certainly made Dan Poulter the talk of the town.
Cannabis Activism In Parliament
Back when he was a minister, and even now, Dan Poulter has been a part of a group of MPs who are very vocal about the issue of legalizing medical cannabis. The group has MPs belonging to both political parties who have come together to bring about this policy reform in England. When Billy Caldwell’s incident took place, Dan was no longer the Health Minister, but he played an important role in bringing the issue into the public domain.
He pointed out that Billy is only one among hundreds of epileptic children who have benefited from the use of cannabis. Moreover, the sudden termination of cannabis treatment could be very dangerous for all of them, and hence, the government must think of granting special permission to these patients.
Poulter being a doctor himself, pointed out the strong evidence that supports the usage of cannabis for several medical conditions. During this incident, he went on record to present some facts in the Parliament, stating that the UK is the largest exporter of medical cannabis products. But still, its people do not get to benefit from this medicine. Dan, along with former justice minister Mike Penning, made a new all-party parliamentary group that pledged to find a solution to this problem.
Recommendations Of His Committee
The Parliamentary committee under Dan Poulter made some practical recommendations to the government on this issue. In his formal submission, Dan said that keeping patients like Billy deprived of cannabis medication is strange and inhuman at a time when other countries like the US and Canada are realizing the potential of CBD medicines and are legalizing them completely.
He suggested that all MPs should come forward in support of a simple Parliamentary order that would allow needy patients to obtain cannabis supply and carry on their treatment. He also warned the Parliament of the repercussions of remaining insensitive to the genuine needs of these patients. Not only will it put their life in jeopardy, but it will also encourage people to procure cannabis illegally, which would establish an unregulated supply chain of cannabis in the British market.
Dan Poulter even went on to say that the Parliament should ignore the legitimate needs of patients. Moreover, a law that was created in 1971 cannot be used to ban cannabis consumption at a time when there is exhaustive evidence available to claim that cannabis can manage medical problems.
To convince the government about the benefits of cannabis, he pledged to rise above his party line, work with a group of members (belonging to the medical fraternity), and prepare a report on these benefits. Several MPs were quick enough to lend support to Mr. Poulter.
Vice President Of End Our Pain
The ‘End Our Pain’ organization started in 2018, and its campaigns for the improvement in accessibility of cannabis resources for patients. Even though Cannabis got legalized (partially) in 2018, its supply and availability remain a big problem. Several known faces, including MPs, activists, etc., have been a part of this organization. Dan Poulter also became the Vice President of the End Our Pain organization and has actively campaigned to improve government funding for cannabis cultivation and supply.
Dan Poulter was an active part of the campaign for the legalization of cannabis. He is among the very few Parliamentarians who openly support the cause and has also helped in making this resource available to patients. He continues to work as a mental health expert and actively takes up issues that require urgent legislative action. Dan has addressed many public gatherings and is considered a great speaker on matters concerning mental health and medical cannabis.