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Cork mother who paved the way for medicinal cannabis treatment to stand for election

A crusading mother who helped open the door to medicinal cannabis treatment in Ireland plans to stand for election as a Fine Gael candidate in West Cork in next year’s local elections.

Yvonne Cahalane, from Dunmanway, in Co Cork, whose young son Tristan became the first person in Ireland to be licensed to import medical cannabis, confirmed that her name will be put forward at the party’s selection convention for the West Cork municipal district next week. She is expected to be added to the ticket.

Yvonne Cahalane and son Tristan, with husband John and son Oscar, in December, 2016. Photo: Denis Boyle.

“When we were in a desperate situation, we asked for help, we asked everybody for help. We didn’t just focus on one political party. And despite this being a controversial issue, Fine Gael were the only ones who took this up and did something about it,” she said.

If I can put myself in a position to help those who helped us, to stand beside the party that helped us, I can’t think of a better way to thank them.

She also called for the implementation of the proposed cannabis access programme, announced in February 2017, but which appears to have stalled.

Ms Cahalane made headlines in 2015 when she launched a fundraising appeal for specialist medical marijuana treatment in the US for Tristan, who has Dravet Syndrome — a rare and severe form of epilepsy.

He was suffering up to 20 seizures a day, with some of the more severe seizures lasting up to an hour.

Ms Cahalane and Tristan relocated to Colorado where the treatment over the course of a year transformed his life, before they returned home.

They then made history in December 2016 when Tristan became the first person in Ireland to be licensed to import medicinal cannabis.

They travel to the Netherlands every few months to collect his medication, while his treatment regime is being overseen by two Irish doctors.

Ms Cahalane said while Tristan is now attending mainstream school, and the treatment is controlling his symptoms, it is not a cure.

She began studying law at Griffith College and her vast research on medicinal cannabis led to her making recommendations to the Oireachtas

Health Committee ahead of the drafting of the proposed Medical Cannabis Access Programme.

Her priorities if elected to Cork County Council include ensuring Dunmanway’s playground becomes one of the most inclusive in the country, through the addition of extra disability friendly equipment.