Mother of child with epilepsy delighted over cannabis recommendation

The mother of a six-year-old girl with a catastrophic form of epilepsy says she is overjoyed at a government report recommending that medicinal cannabis is made available to patients with specified medical conditions.

Vera Twomey of Aghabullogue, Co Cork, says she is very excited that the Cannabis for Medical Use Report recommends that cannabis be available for use in coping with severe, refractory or treatment-resistant epilepsy.

Her daughter Ava Barry has Dravet Syndrome and can experience multiple seizures every day. In recent months her condition has improved as she has started taking cannabis oil.

However, Mrs Twomey’s fear is that eventually, Ava will need a stronger form of cannabis which is not legal in Ireland. She hopes Ava will be able to get the more potent THC form of cannabis if it is needed: “We are so excited. It is a great step forward and we are looking forward to the legislation. Based on the report Ava meets the conditions.”

Ava has been taking cannabis oil legally-sourced from a shop in Dublin since last October.

Asked about the first ever review of medicinal cannabis, Minister for Health, Simon Harris said: “I would like to see this up and running within a matter of months. I believe I can do that. By putting a pilot project in place it enables this country to carry out clinical trials which will provide data that not just Ireland can benefit from but, in fact, the EU and beyond.”

Mr Harris said he is not softening the cannabis law: “Cannabis still remains an absolutely illegal substance to use. What I am doing is following in full the advice of the Health Products Regulatory Authority.

“Let’s remember, these are people who have tried everything else to alleviate the suffering of themselves or their loved one. So this is being done on compassionate grounds. And I think it is a humane and compassionate thing to do,” he said.


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