'I felt like a criminal target': Mum's plea to Harris after customs seize her son's medicinal cannabis

'I felt like a criminal target': Mum's plea to Harris after customs seize her son's medicinal cannabis
Noreen O'Neill with her son Michael. Pic: Denis Minihane.

A mum campaigning for access to medicinal cannabis for her little boy said she felt like a criminal as airport security stepped and searched her and seized his medication moments after she landed with it at Dublin Airport.

Noreen O'Neill, who lives in Cork, fought back tears night as recalled the moment she was searched under caution, and the THC-medication she acquired at a clinic in Barcelona over the weekend was confiscated.

"I was looking at it on the sideboard, thinking of everything I'd gone through to get it - and it's just three small bottles," she said.

"But it could transform Michael's life. And to think that it could just go into a bin somewhere, or be destroyed, and to think of what it's capable of, that's what's criminal here.

"I felt like a target, like a criminal target, the moment I got off the plane.

"They were watching me, and had been spotted and were radioing ahead as I walked along the corridor.

"I knew they'd be waiting for me, I knew I was going to be intercepted. It was a chilling feeling."

Ms O'Neill was stopped by customs staff at Dublin Airport moments after her flight from Barcelona landed.

She was escorted to a room where she was cautioned, and her bags searched.

She eventually volunteered the information that the medication - three 10ml viles - was in her handbag.

Each bottle contains around 250 drops which Ms O'Neill said could eliminate Michael's seizures entirely for several months.

The medication was confiscated. Ms O'Neill said the officers were empathetic but told her they had a job to do.

She repeated her calls on Health Minister Simon Harris for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis to prevent other families in similar situations from having to travel abroad for healthcare.

"Is it better to have children being put in induced comas to stop their seizures, than to legalise medicinal cannabis?"

Michael was born healthy and passed all his developmental checks, until his first seizure on December 19, 2016, two days after his christening.

He was later diagnosed with bilateral frontal polymicrogyria — too many folds on the surface of the frontal lobes of his brain — which causes excessive electrical activity, and developmental delay.

Within two months, he was experiencing up to 20 seizures a day. Ten different anticonvulsant drugs didn't work.

Following extensive research, Noreen began to administer CBD oil and within 72 hours, Michael was seizure-free. He recovered his swallow and reached important developmental milestones.

But despite the effectiveness of the CBD, Michael now needs the more potent THC form of medication.

It is being administered under the supervision of consultants at the clinic at Barcelona.

Ms O'Neill, who spoke out about Michael's plight earlier this year, and who went public last week about her trip to Barcelona, said she has been inundated with requests for help from families in similar situations all over Ireland, and abroad.


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