Mum to climb mountain in plea for medicinal cannabis

Noreen O'Neill with her son.

A mother who is pleading for a licence for medicinal cannabis for her sick toddler who suffers from seizures plans to climb Croagh Patrick this Sunday in order to highlight her plight.

Michael O’Neill, who will be two at the end of August, has a neurological condition called bilateral frontal polymicrogyric, which involves him having too many folds on the frontal lobes of his brain.

He has experienced severe seizures which are currently reduced to spasms via the use of CBD oil.

His mother, Noreen, said Michael will need access to THC, the more potent form of cannabis oil, in order to stabilise his condition.

Ms O’Neill said while the Government proudly states that it has granted medicinal cannabis licences for seven people, the reality is that this figure represents failure. She says dozens of people cannot get consultants to even sign off for the application process.

Simon Coveney said last week that seven people have been granted licences for medicinal cannabis. The applications are not coming in because the consultants won’t sign off on them. The fact that only seven licences have either come in or been granted shows that the whole thing is a failure.

Ms O’Neill, who recently moved from her home in Kerry to Cork to be near Cork University Hospital, said the onus is being put on consultants to go out on a limb in signing off on an application.

She claimed they are often in a “hands-tied” situation given that THC is not legal in the country and its prescribing involves a licensing exemption.

Ms O’Neill said the climb up Croagh Patrick, which she is undertaking with Vera Twomey and 30 other individuals in her situation, will be symbolic of the arduous journeys they are all on to receive care.

“We want to put some pressure on before the Government break for the summer. Croagh Patrick is symbolic. Climbing a mountain is what we have been doing trying to get a licence.”

Ms O’Neill has received more than 10,000 signatures on a petition calling for legalisation of medicinal cannabis. She said legalisation would make the process a lot easier both for patients and consultants.

She has taken leave from her job as a teacher in order to care full time for her son.

He was three-and-a-half months when he had his first seizure at home in Kerry. It was two days after his christening. At one stage he was having 20 seizures a day. It was like that until I gave him CBD oil in January.

“We need now for THC to be introduced with CBD to keep him seizure free. I can’t speak highly enough of CBD but CBD and THC are the powerhouse. They work together in incredible ways.”

The Department of Health said it was unable to comment on individual cases.

It has previously stated that the decision to prescribe or not prescribe any treatment, including cannabis treatment, for an individual patient is strictly a decision for the treating clinician, in consultation with their patient and that the health minister has no role in this clinical decision-making process.

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