Thursday 18 January 2018

'Lives are in danger,' says mum urging Harris to fast-track medical cannabis

Health Minister Simon Harris. Picture: Frank McGrath
Health Minister Simon Harris. Picture: Frank McGrath
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A promised review of the use of medicinal cannabis cannot be allowed to drag on indefinitely and a strict timeline for its completion is necessary to "save lives", it was warned last night.

Vera Twomey-Barry, whose daughter suffers severe seizures, pleaded with Health Minister Simon Harris to fast-track synthetic cannabis oil treatment for Irish children, including her daughter Ava (6).

The Cork mother was responding to Mr Harris's announcement that he will ask the medicines' watchdog, the Health Products Regulatory Authority, to provide him with expert scientific advice on the use of medicinal cannabis.

Ms Twomey-Barry's daughter Ava suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a rare condition where she suffers from virtually uncontrollable epileptic seizures.

The little girl suffered 16 seizures alone over one 36-hour period. The worried mother believes medicinal cannabis could help ease her symptoms.

Danger

While she welcomed the announcement she stressed that a timetable for its findings and legislation needs to be set out urgently.

"This cannot be allowed to drag on indefinitely, otherwise people's lives are in danger," she said.

"[The review] is not about decriminalising 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," Mr Harris said.

Ms Twomey-Barry was so worried about Ava's seizures that she announced she was going to walk the 300km to Dublin to personally implore the minister.

Mr Harris said yesterday he understands the very difficult situation the family are in and will be speaking to the her in the coming days. The matter will come up for discussion at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health later this month.

Irish Independent

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