Vera Twomey: Medicinal cannabis changes will give 'some peace' to patients

Vera Twomey: Medicinal cannabis changes will give 'some peace' to patients

Vera Twomey has welcomed the announcement by the health minister that she will not have to resume going abroad to collect medicinal cannabis as Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted. Picture: Denis Minihane

The mother of a severely epileptic child has welcomed the health minister’s announcement that medicinal cannabis will continue to be brought into the country for patients post-Covid, saying it would “give them some peace". 

Vera Twomey had been travelling every 12 weeks to collect medical cannabis for her daughter Ava, with permission from the State, prior to April 6 when the Department of Health arranged for the medicine to be delivered to their home instead, in the wake of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The Department of Health had indicated until recently that the delivery of such medication into the country would only continue while public health restrictions were in place. 

But today, Stephen Donnelly announced that patients who are prescribed medical cannabis products will no longer need to travel to the Netherlands to collect their medication.

“It will give us peace of mind. We needed that security,” Ms Twomey said.

“It would be terrifying to travel. And, aside from Covid, it’s unacceptable to have to travel for the medication.

“It’s not something anyone else with any other illness is asked to do.” 

She said the medicine has saved her daughter’s life, dramatically reducing the number of seizures Ava suffered, and improving her quality of life. 

However, being forced to travel to Holland to collect it every 12 weeks “felt like a punishment” from the State for getting her child what she needed, she said.

She warmly welcomed the health minister's announcement, but said she needed more information about exactly where the medication would be delivered.

Officials in the Department of Health will finalise the arrangements of how the collection and delivery service will work on a permanent basis "into the future". 

Ms Twomey said she hoped the cannabis would continue to be delivered directly to patient’s homes or to their local pharmacies.

“I would like to see details of how they are going to organise it and where it will be delivered to. 

"It’s positive news, but I need to see more details. But it looks like we are going to get what we need."

Speaking today, Mr Donnelly said: “Many patients and their families have shared stories with both me and officials in my department about how this initiative has made a huge improvement to their lives. 

"They spoke about the stress of having to travel regularly and the associated health risks with that, as well as their concerns that they would run out of their medication.

“I am so pleased that these problems will now be a thing of the past for them. There will no longer be a need for them to travel abroad in order to collect their prescribed cannabis products. Instead, they can focus on their health and wellbeing. 

"The welfare of patients and their families comes first and I am happy to reassure them that they will no longer have to personally source their prescriptions."

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