Dad of terminally ill boy (4) calls for medicinal cannabis review to be expedited
The father of a terminally ill boy has urged health minister Simon Harris to speed up a review of the use of medicinal cannabis.
Ronan Gaynor (4) has a rare type of brain tumour and his father Mark says medicinal cannabis could ease his symptoms and the serious pain he suffers.
He was speaking as Dublin AAA-PBP TD Gino Kenny launched his Bill seeking the regulation of cannabis for medicinal use.
Mr Harris has begun a review of the policy on medicinal cannabis that will be conducted with “best clinical advice and expertise” but due to be complete early next year.
Mr Gaynor’s son Ronan has Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).
"It’s an extremely rare and ultimately terminal brain tumour," he said adding that the diagnosis that came last year was "the worst news any parent could get".
After courses of radiotherapy Ronan has been taking Cannabidiol (CBD) after his parents sought advice from Canadian Doctors.
This form of medicinal cannabis can be bought legally in Ireland but is not licensed for prescription.
Mr Gaynor, from Galway, and other parents are campaigning for another element of cannabis, THC, to be legalised as well to help treat their children’s conditions.
“We’d hope that the minister would expedite things. He needs the THC element of this now,” Mr Gaynor said.
His call was echoed by Vera Twomey whose daughter Ava Barry (6) suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy. She said that Ava suffered as many as 23 seizures in a 36 hour period before she began treatment with CBD. She had just seven such attacks last month.
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Ms Twomey, from Cork said: "There’s no psychoactive affect on the child with the percentage of THC that we’d be looking for. It’s just that the whole process works better when the THC and the CBD is brought together to treat the seizures."
She met Mr Harris on Wednesday and she said he told her that January is the earliest the review of Ireland’s policy on medicinal cannabis can be completed.
The review is the first of its kind to take place into the complex issue in Ireland and is expected to take 12 weeks.
John O’Meara from Clondalkin raised the case of his granddaughter Erika Cawley (6) who also has Dravet Syndrome and that she has tried 23 different forms of conventional treatment. While her symptoms have eased, he is also seeking the legalisation of medicinal cannabis.
Tom Curran, the partner of the late campaigner Marie Fleming who suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, said he had been prepared to break the law and grow cannabis to help ease her pain and spasms.
He called on Mr Harris to make an emergency exemption for medicinal cannabis.
Gino Kenny said there is a growing political consensus around the need for medicinal cannabis and that there are “very exciting times ahead".
He said that he hopes his Bill will be put to a Dáil vote soon and it is to be debated by February at the latest.
A spokesperson for Mr Harris reiterated that he has asked the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) to provide expert advice on the issue.
A statement said the HPRA’s statutory role is to protect and enhance human health by regulating medicines and other health products.
"It has clinical and scientific expertise which will contribute significantly to this review," it added.