Medical cannabis academic shares excitement of meeting Home Secretary Sajid Javid at 10 Downing Street

Yewande Okuleye, a medical cannabis researcher within our School of History, Politics and International Relations, has spoken of her ‘excitement’ meeting Home Secretary Sajid Javid and the real-world application of her research into cannabis self-medication during an event at 10 Downing Street for the 70th anniversary of the Windrush.

The event, which took place on 22 June, saw Yewande being invited by the Prime Minister as part of the Operation Black Vote parliamentary scheme, where she is currently shadowing and learning from Tom Brake MP.

The highlight of the event for Yewande was meeting the Home Secretary and congratulating him on his decision to provide Billy Caldwell with access to CBD oil in order to help control his epileptic seizures.

This meeting was significant for Yewande, whose PhD research ‘Contested Knowledges: Tracing Patient and Scientific Expertise and the Emergence of Medical Cannabis in England (1992- 2017)’ involved conducting interviews with clinicians, scientists, patients and activists has provided her with a depth and breadth of insight about cannabis self-medication. 

“The key to creating a programme which meets the specific needs of medical cannabis patients in Britain requires a transdisciplinary expertise approach and my expertise complements the specialist team which Sajid is putting in place,” Yewande explained. “My main motivation on embarking on my PhD Research was to apply my insight, knowledge, and expertise in the ‘real world’ and this exciting chance meeting with the Home secretary might just make this a reality.”

While Yewande welcomes the opportunity to discuss her research and provide expertise to policymakers, the event was also an opportunity for her, and others, to reflect on the challenges facing the Windrush generation.

“I had watched in dismay about the consequences of the hostile environment on the lives of the Windrush generation,” Yewande said. “The teaching assistant, Michael Braithwaite’s account really touched me. I remember how his eyes symbolised the pain of the displacement, emotional turmoil, and stress which the cruelty and callousness of the hostile environment had indiscriminately dehumanised Michael and so many others.

“Meeting and talking to Michael gave me some reassurance that he felt there was some light at the end of tunnel. This helped me move through the collective pain of bearing witness to the Windrush scandal.”

Yewande hopes that the establishment of a Windrush Commemoration Committee, which will be chaired by Liberal Democrat peer, Baroness Floella Benjamin, will move this saga to a more positive engagement with the history of the Windrush pioneers.

“It was an auspicious day to meet the great and the good,” Yewande said, making sure to chat with other notable figures, including the talented Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie, a key voice in African literature, before the event came to a close.

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