Saturday 21 July 2018

Irish campaigner Vera Twomey to address UK House of Commons on legalisation of medicinal cannabis

Vera Twomey-Barry from Aghabullogue. co. Cork pictured with her daughter Ava, who suffers from Dravet's Syndrome. Pic: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Vera Twomey-Barry from Aghabullogue. co. Cork pictured with her daughter Ava, who suffers from Dravet's Syndrome. Pic: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

AN IRISH health campaigner has been honoured with an invitation to address the UK House of Commons on the legalisation of medicinal cannabis.

Vera Twomey will speak before a powerful health committee in Westminster alongside other campaigners from England, Scotland, Wales and Europe.

The submissions are aimed at persuading the UK Government to allow cannabis to be sourced within the UK for medicinal purposes on a special license system.

"I couldn't believe it when I was first contacted and asked if I would speak at the House of Commons," the Cork mother said.

"I never thought I would ever be asked to do something like this."

"But if it helps any other family who find themselves facing the plight that we did, then I am glad to do it."

The issue of legalising medicinal cannabis in the UK has become extremely high profile over recent months.

Last week, a Northern Ireland family had a supply of medicinal cannabis - secured for their sick child - taken off them at an airport.

The medicines were later returned to them.

Vera made national headlines with her determined campaign to secure access to medicinal cannabis in Ireland for her daughter, Ava (8).

Ava and Vera Twomey
Ava and Vera Twomey

Ava suffers from Dravet's Syndrome.

The condition, which is effectively immune to more traditional medical treatments, is the most drastic form of epilepsy and leaves Ava facing life-threatening seizures.

At one point, Ava was suffering up to 16 seizures a day, however, Ava's condition has dramatically improved with the use of medicinal cannabis.

Her seizures have now effectively stopped.

The Cork mother waged a determined two year battle to secure a special license for Ava to get access to medicinal cannabis treatment in Ireland.

Until the license was granted, she brought Ava to the Netherlands where such medicinal cannabis treatments are readily available.

The family finally secured a license to provide medicinal cannabis to Ava in Ireland - but then had to battle to secure a commitment from the Government for the medicine costs to be defrayed.

It was costing the family €5,000 every 12 weeks to pay for special medicinal cannabis treatments for Ava.

"Ava turned to me (recently) and said: 'I love you.' That took us eight years to achieve - eight years to get her well enough to say that."

Vera became a high profile campaigner for access to medicinal cannabis treatments by undertaking a walk from her Cork home to Dublin to protest outside the Dail.

The Cork mother also took her campaign to Europe.

She has received multiple awards for her health campaigning work.

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