Glasgow & West Scotland

Cannabis oil smuggling mum visited by police

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Media captionLisa Quarrell is worried she will face a child protection probe

A Scottish mum who admitted smuggling cannabis oil into the country to give to her six-year-old son has been visited by police.

Lisa Quarrell, a former police officer, brought the medicine into the country illegally to treat her son Cole who has a rare form of epilepsy.

She fears she is now facing child protection proceedings as a result.

"It's terrifying", she said. "But there was no choice as far as I was concerned."

Cole Thompson has had brain surgery and tried many anti-epileptic drugs.

A bad day for him could mean up to 16 seizures, most of which would happen at night. But he had not responded to existing drugs.

In a BBC documentary, his mother Lisa said she had smuggled a cannabis medicine containing the ingredient THC - the part of the plant that produces a high - into the country from Holland after getting a prescription from a doctor there.

She spent thousands of pounds bringing the drug back illegally but her son is now being prescribed cannabis oil legally by a private London hospital.

Image copyright Lisa Quarrell
Image caption Cole had brain surgery at the age of two to try to stop the seizures

Since giving Cole the oil, Lisa has reported a marked improvement in his condition.

Although medicines containing THC can be prescribed in the UK, doctors are largely refusing to do so, saying there is not enough evidence they are safe or work.

Lisa, from East Kilbride, has been visited by the police who have requested access to her son's medical records. She now faces the prospect of child protection proceedings.

"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.

Image copyright Lisa Quarrell

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.

The police have since asked for information and reports from the private hospital where Lisa now gets Cole's medication.

A Police Scotland spokesman told BBC Scotland the case had been fully investigated and it had been established that there was no criminality.

However, he said he could not comment on whether child protection proceedings were under way.

'Demonising me for saving my son's life'

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.

Image caption Lisa said she had decided to go public with her situation so her family had the chance of a normal life

"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?," she said "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.

"I'm not going to stop. Out of everybody, the only people that are not financially gaining from the cannabis is the parents, but we get nothing that money could buy which is our kids back. So for that reason I won't stop."

Image caption Monica Lennon said the NHS and Scottish government needed to "pull together" on the issue

Central Scotland MSP Monica Lennon has given her support to 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.

"I can understand why parents would go to desperate lengths to make sure their child's life is prolonged.

"Parents like Lisa are doing their very best for their children.

"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."

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