Health Minister Simon Harris was asked by Vera Twomey, mother of 6-year-old Ava with Dravet syndrome to review medical cannabis. Mr. Harris responded a day after Ms Twoney started her 150mile protest walk from Cork to Dublin.
The Irish examiner reports on the Minister of Health asking health chiefs to give him expert scientific advice on the medical use of cannabis in order for the Health Products Regulatory Authority to review the current policy on medicinal marijuana. Mr. Harris said “This is not a discussion about decriminalizing cannabis in any way, shape, or form — it is about reviewing our current policy, and seeking to inform ourselves of the latest medical and scientific evidence on the potential medical benefits of cannabis for some people with certain medical conditions”.
Minister of Health ordered the review
After Vera Twomey started her protest walk, the Health Minister announced a review of Ireland’s policy on medicinal cannabis, which is currently strictly controlled. She wanted to bring attention to the issue of Dravet syndrome children suffering hundreds of severe seizures, and get Health Minister Simon Harris to take action.
Ava’s mom claims CBD oil from cannabis available in a hemp shop is easing the daily seizures Ava suffers because of her condition. Dravet syndrome is a rare, drug resistant form of severe epilepsy.
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CBD oil for seizures
The CBD oil contains no traceable levels of THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, and can’t induce the “high” traditionally associated with cannabis or marijuana. Ms Twomey, from Aghabullogue, Co Cork, launched an online petition to raise awareness about CBD oil. She called off the walk after she had a conversation with the minister on the phone.
Ms Twomey has been using the cannabis strain called Charlotte’s Web, but she fears Ava will build a resistance to it, and she will then be left with no treatment option.
Mr. Harris realizes the concern but cannabis is still unauthorized
Mr. Harris said he understood Ms Twomey’s concern and he is aware that many patients believe cannabis is an effective treatment option for their medical conditions, but cannabis is currently an unauthorized medicine. It has not gone through the standard regulatory procedures for medication. These procedures were designed to protect patients and ensure treatments are backed by sound evidence of effectiveness.
Legalization of medicinal use was proposed by People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny earlier this year in the Dáil to legalize it. A discussion by the Oireachtas Health Committee will take place later this month on the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
CBD oil from Charlotte’s Web
Ms Twomey says doctors should be able to prescribe CBD oil to patients who suffer seizures. There shouldn’t be grey areas where people have to rely on hemp shops to get their medicine.
As Charlotte’s dad Matt of Charlotte’s Web fame said after Charlotte’s seizures were controlled “I want to scream it from the rooftops. I want other people, other parents, to know that this is a viable option.”