Northern Ireland

Sophia Gibson granted landmark cannabis licence

Gibson family Image copyright Gibson family
Image caption Sophia Gibson from Newtownards, County Down has Dravet Syndrome

A seven-year-old girl who suffers with a rare genetic condition has been granted a license for medicinal cannabis.

Sophia Gibson, from Newtownards, County Down suffers with Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.

The condition is caused by a rare genetic dysfunction of the brain and results in severe epileptic seizures.

An application was made on behalf of Sophia to the specialist cannabis panel set up by the home secretary.

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Media captionSophia Gibson's mother, Danielle

She is the first person to be granted a long-term licence for the use of medicinal cannabis in the UK under the new expert panel system.

Sir Mike Penning who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Cannabis described it as a massive achievement.

"I hope her success offers hope to the many hundreds who also want access.

"Our priority is now rescheduling medical cannabis, so families don't have to use the flawed panel and doctors can prescribe medical cannabis for patients that need it."

Sophia's parents, Danielle and Darren, said cannabis oil relieves the symptoms of Sophia's condition and could drastically reduce the number of seizures she endures each day.

She was previously treated with the medication when her family took her to the Netherlands.

Sophia was admitted into intensive care on Wednesday after what has been described as a "traumatic" seizure that led to her being put into an induced coma.

Image copyright Gibson family

The panel was set up by the home secretary after a number of high-profile cases of children with severe epilepsy being denied access to cannabis oil to control seizures.

Billy Caldwell from Castlederg was granted an emergency licence by the Deparment of Health allowing doctors in Belfast to treat him with medicinal cannabis.

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