In Australia this week Greenlight, a pro-medical cannabis organisation has been launched, bringing together some of the country’s key medical cannabis campaigners, such as millionaire philanthropist Barry Lambert and mother Lucy Haslam.
In an open letter (published below) to the Australian Prime Minister from Lambert’s granddaughter Katelyn, they call for greater compassion towards individuals whose wellbeing is dependent on continued access to medical cannabis.
Katelyn aged 5, suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome, that in some cases sees children having hundreds of seizures a day.
When Katelyn’s condition did not respond to conventional medication, they found hope in cases like Charlotte Figi, who after taking cannabis oil rich in CBD, found her seizures reduced to almost zero.
The family began giving Katelyn CBD oil and the improvement was instantaneous. Since then grandfather Barry, who just happens to be one of the wealthiest men in Australia, has made multimillion dollar donations to medical cannabis research.
But despite Lambert’s best efforts, and a change in federal legislation, progress has been frustratingly slow.
It’s this lack of any real progress that has spurred Greenlight into being. The organisation also calls for the end to raids on compassionate suppliers of medical cannabis.
In a recent interview with ABC News Ms Haslam says, “We need to stop the raids on compassionate suppliers — I mean there’s a very big difference between people that are supplying a criminal recreational market and people that are supplying for compassionate access, so we need to take that criminality away out of what’s happening at the moment because at the moment it is meeting a medical necessity.”
Greenlight is organising a high profile media event to be held in the next two week to which they have personally invited the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnball.
Dear Prime Minister and Premiers,
My name is Katelyn. I am 5 years old and have Dravet Syndrome, a rare and catastrophic form of epilepsy. Unfortunately, I have brain damage due to the hundreds of seizures I had before I started using natural cannabis plant extracts. Because of this my grandparents (Barry and Joy Lambert) have become my voice for this letter.
What I would like you to understand is that for me and lots of children like me, cannabis plant extracts are the best treatment for reducing seizures. Before I finally took cannabis extract, my doctors and specialists tried many pharmaceutical drugs. None of them stopped my seizures and now I regret taking them because they are known to cause very bad side effects. Since taking cannabis extract the number of nights I have stayed in hospital has reduced by 89%.
Prime Minister, the cannabis plant extract I EAT to live well is legal in many countries, including the USA. Surely it is my basic human right to eat this natural plant extract just as much as it is your human right to eat natural fruits and vegetables to maintain your good health? Last year your Government promised medicinal cannabis would be made available to Australians who genuinely need it. This has not happened and things are much worse now than before You changed the legislation.
Cannabis has improved my condition enormously and my doctors and specialists have documented this. But no matter how hard we have tried we still cannot get a permit from the Health Department to obtain this medicine legally. Your Governments have not told the public the truth about what it has done and this is why my grandparents are making sure this letter gets published on behalf of the thousands of Australians who are suffering today.
Would this happen “If I were your Grandchild?” The public is being led to believe, by your Government, that medicinal cannabis is available and accessible to those in need. That is not true and the recent changes in the law have done nothing for people needing this medicine.
The legislation, and the regulations that go with it, make it incredibly hard to cultivate the plant and make products from it in Australia. Sussan Ley (Former Health Minister) even changed existing rules to make cannabis – and only cannabis – more difficult to obtain from overseas than any other drug. If I want to continue to be able to walk and hopefully talk by the time I am 10 years old, I need to have access to cannabis extract today, not three years from now.
Luckily my Dad has been willing to break the law for me. He has been charged by the police and he promises that he will go to jail so I can have a better life. I thought the Government was supposed to protect us, but instead my Dad and wonderful people like Jenny Hallam have become criminals for helping people whose only crime is that their illnesses are relieved by cannabis and its extract.
But please don’t feel sorry for me. This letter is on behalf of thousands of Australians who like me rely on natural cannabis plant extracts to ease their pain and suffering. And like me they are considered criminals and that is wrong!
Recently the Government asked this country’s most well-known opponents of cannabis and medicinal cannabis to ‘review evidence’ and write guidelines for doctors who may wish to recommend it. These people include the ex-head of the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre, the Government’s main anti-cannabis organisation. Please read “Government Puts Foxes in Charge of Medicinal Cannabis Henhouse” to find out more on who has been selected to write medicinal cannabis guidelines on behalf of thousands of Australians who need treatment today. Prime Minister, have you selected these experts to get the outcome that your administration wants?
Please show some compassion. My life and the lives of many other Australians depend on you. I am sure You and Australia will be shocked at how many regular, otherwise law-abiding families depend on ‘illegal’ cannabis extract for their health only. I think You will be even more shocked at their stories and the videos showing the suffering they endure as your Government takes their lifeline away and offers nothing in return except red tape and fancy words.
Prime Minister and Premiers, concerned Australians will hold a very large media event in two weeks. I will be joined by many people who want to ask “Do you seriously think you are meeting your human rights obligations by depriving Australians of their right to medicines that are helping them”? I am personally inviting all of you and your Health Ministers to come to this event and you will hear the truth for yourselves.
PM, please help us. Katelyn Lambert