Vera Twomey says the law needs to change on medicinal cannabis

Vera Twomey says the law needs to change on medicinal cannabis
Vera Twomey with People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny at Leinster House after she walked from Cork to Dublin to raise awareness for her sick daughter Ava. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Campaigning mother Very Twomey has outlined the five options given to her by Health Minister Simon Harris to access medicinal cannabis for her daughter and has announced plans for a peaceful protest outside the Dáíl.

Ms Twomey's seven-year-old daughter Ava suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome which causes her to have multiple seizures per day. The family have been campaigning to get a THC-based medical treatment for Ava which is illegal in Ireland but widely available in Europe and North America.

Earlier this month, Ms Twomey walked from Mallow to Dublin to highlight her daughter's need for the medication and met Minister Harris where he outlined five options for her to access the medication.

However, Ms Twomey has stated that most of the options are unworkable and would involve her daughter travelling abroad for treatment which she is not currently well enough to do.

The first two options given to the family were a public neurologist - who is not willing to oversee the treatment – and a private neurologist who could oversee the treatment if prescribed by a Canadian consultant but Ava is not well enough to travel.

“The third option was the treatment abroad scheme but obviously, this also involves travel to some destination. It's not a possibility for us at this point,” said Ms Twomey.

“[Option] four is the compassionate access programme...The consultants describe it as completely unworkable and it's not possible for any consultant to successfully put in an application for a patient because of the legal situation concerning the THC part of the treatment. There won't be any consultant neurological, or otherwise, from what I have been told be senior physicians that will be able to put forward this application, even if they wanted to.

“The last option is legislation. It seems that after out meeting in Dublin, with Simon Harris and his people, that only alternative out there for people like us is to fight for legislation in this country. I feel very sympathetic towards the neurologist's situation because it is not their fault that they can't prescribe this. It's the law and it's the law that has to change. It needs to change as urgently as possible.

“We have a little girl that is badly in need of help and it's a fright of God that there are people on our own doorstep, all across Europe and the world, getting medicinal cannabis for their families but my child isn't allowed to do that, that my child isn't allowed access to something that is a human right - medication to help her situation.” Minister Harris stated earlier this month that he was “fully committed” to establishing an access programme for cannabis-based treatments but said he had been advised that a licence must come with the endorsement of a consultant.

Ms Twomey added that she will attend a peaceful protest, organised by TD Gino Kenny, outside Dáil Eireann on March 29 to raise awareness of the issue.

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