By Eleni Vetsika
Medicinal cannabis could assist thousands of people in Ireland if legalised, however, the government are taking their time with the relevant legislation that has been proposed by Solidarity-PBP, despite being urged to take into account how urgent the issue is.
The use of medicinal cannabis has proven to be beneficial for sufferers of an array of debilitating conditions: multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, anxiety, sleep disorders, Parkinson’s, chronic pain, nausea resulting from chemotherapy and many more.
One of the starkest cases that could be drastically assisted by the legalisation of medicinal cannabis is that of 6-year-old Ava from Co Cork, who suffers from Dravet syndrome – a rare form of epilepsy – and has often experienced 15 to 20 seizures a day. Her mother, Vera Twomey, in an effort to raise awareness for the need to legalise medicinal cannabis has launched a series of campaigning actions, including a 260km trek from Cork to Dublin.
Despite multiple efforts and meeting with Minister for Health, Simon Harris, Ava’s case has not progressed and her health is captive of vague legislation, where the minister can grant permission for access to cannabis when an application is endorsed by the patient’s consultant. However Ava’s consultant is hesitant to do so, as there is no expertise in this country of overseeing such cases.
Change in health system
On the other hand, Harris seems to be hiding behind advice of his chief medical officer that it would be “neither appropriate nor ethical” for the Minister to interfere in a doctor-patient relationship. The sad truth remains that Ava and many thousands of others that could seriously benefit from medicinal cannabis have to wait in uncertainty and pain.
This is a clear example of the need for drastic change in our health system; we need medicine to suit the patients’ needs, not the pharmaceutical industry. Medicine is changing, and the legalisation of medicinal cannabis needs to be addressed urgently.