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Pressure is mounting on the Irish government after a single mother wrote a heart-rending letter urging them to legalise cannabis as a medicine.
Noreen O’Neill is the mother of 17-month-old Michael who suffers from a neurological disorder.
Michael had been suffering from seizures since he was three months old. Anticonvulsant drugs prescribed by doctors had failed to address the problem.
In her letter, O’Neill writes in great detail about the trials of discovering her previously happy and healthy baby plunge into a life of seizures and severe side effects of the many medicines prescribed to him.
“Can you imagine what it’s like to watch a baby convulsing, Minister? During those times, a typical day in the hospital would be me waking up to get sick before I did anything else. The thought of what lay ahead and what would become of my baby literally turned my stomach daily.”
After going through ten different types of drugs, O’Neill made the decision to try cannabis oil .
CBD oil is legal in Ireland, however, it is not authorized as a medicinal product, and therefore not a regarded as an option for treatment.
Since using the medicine, Michael has been free of seizures. O’Neill wants the government to review its stance on cannabidiol treatment and offer CBD oil to patients who suffer from similar problems as her son.
O’Neill writes about the day she gave her son a dose of CBD oil, “Michael’s seizures halved the following day, and halved again the day after. On the third day, I waited for seizures to come, very much expected them to come, and they did not, and have not since! It is now day 14, and to say life is different would be an immense understatement.
“Yesterday I cooked dinner, uninterrupted, and I was able to sit down and actually eat it. We went for a walk, and I didn’t have to bring the suction machine or cut it short to race back to the house. We watched two Disney movies, to the actual end! I was able to do the hoovering, and not stop at two minute intervals to check him. Michael’s smiles came back last Friday and he hasn’t stopped since. Until or unless you have a baby of your own Minister Harris, there is no point in me even trying to explain what this was like. When my nurse is here now, I can leave and feel I likely won’t get a call to say something has gone wrong. My stomach no longer lurches when the phone rings and I am out. I can make plans again for us to do the normal things mothers do with their babies. My own extended family also feel the effect, and they too no longer assume immediately something is wrong when they see my number calling. People often use the expression ‘I feel like I have won the lotto’, but even that does not exemplify the elation I feel.”
This isn’t the first time the Dáil have been encouraged to open up the healthcare system to these types of products. Vera Twomey made headlines last year when she asked the government for access to a CBD product for her daughter Ave who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet’s syndrome.
In a not so dissimilar story, Ava’s condition has remarkably improved by using CBS oil. However, her mother is demanding that THC products – currently illegal in Ireland – should be made accessible for those whose conditions require it.
Her campaigning last year culminated in the Minister for Health granting Twomey a licence to the specific type of cannabidiol needed for Ava.