Can a dad be prosecuted for trying to save his daughter’s life? Australia is about to find out as a landmark medical cannabis for seizures case goes to court.
The Lambert family and Katelyn Lambert are well known in medical cannabis circles. Katelyn suffers from Dravet syndrome. It’s a rare and lethal type of epilepsy causing seizures from a very young age. These children can incur severe brain damage from these seizures, that is, if they don’t die.
There is no prescription medicine that seems to help. But in Katelyn’s case, CBD worked after the first dose of medical cannabis for seizures. After that, her grandparents donated the biggest sum ever given to medical research in Australia. The money is being used to fund research into cannabis as a medicine. Today, the Lambert Institute forms part of Sydney University. ABC News covered Michael Lambert’s court hearing.
Dad in court for giving medical cannabis for seizures
Dad, Michael Lambert, was charged for giving Katelyn CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient in industrial hemp. He first imported CBD oil from Denmark but was so afraid that Katelyn would have to go without it at some stage, that he started growing cannabis to produce his own oil.
Michael Lambert had to appear in court on charges of possession and cultivation. He explained in court how he knew he was giving his daughter an illegal substance. However, he had to take the risk as her life was in jeopardy. His family surrounded him in court, and Katelyn was also present.
Home grown not the same?
The prosecutor argued that the Lamberts could have used legal treatments. The magistrate also questioned the quality of homegrown and produced cannabis oil. He was skeptical about it being as effective as oil produced in a clinical setting.
Dr Adam Buckmaster, a pediatrician, told the court that he saw Katelyn after her dad gave her CBD. He testified that her condition had improved remarkably. She was happy, interactive and sociable. The doctor concluded that only CBD could have made that difference.
Dad emotional over oil treatment
A DVD shown in court showed Michael Lambert as the police raided his property and confiscated the oil he had in his fridge. He co-operated throughout the search, not hiding anything. Michael even mentioned the oil in the fridge. He became very emotional when the police took the oil, explaining that every seizure is equal to a “kick in the head” for Katelyn.
Katelyn suffered from some brain damage before the Lamberts discovered CBD, but since she has been on it, she has not had a seizure for 20 months. These days, she is doing really well and is attending preschool.
There is no alternative
Granddad Barry says taking legal action against someone administering CBD as a medicine is equal to laying charges against someone for eating an orange to get some Vitamin C. He explained that a sum total of 23 doctors can prescribe Epidiolex, a cannabis based treatment for epilepsy. Unfortunately, it is successful in only 30% of cases.
Barry called it “a joke” as the numbers equate to one doctor for every million people. He said what his son did for Katelyn was life-saving and called on the Australian government to protect its citizens.
Michael Lambert will have to wait until the end of May for his next day in court. Will the justice system really impose a sentence on Michael for saving his daughter’s life? It seems hard to believe.