Cannabis oil soothes son
A TWEED family with a 15-year-old permanently disabled son say they have radically reduced his seizures with cannabis oil after exhausting all other legal treatments.
The couple, who do not want to use their real names for fear of prosecution, are calling for politicians to legalise the substance so more families can experience the oil's therapeutic benefits.
And they are not alone. David and Jessica Smith (not their real names), say they know of six other Tweed families using cannabis for cancer, neurological disorders and terminal illness.
Tom (not real name) was born with numerous genetic conditions, including OPHN1 gene deletion, autism, cerebral palsy, scoliosis, cortical blindness (with 4% vision), iron deficiency, constipation and bruxism.
The Smiths say that prior to using the tincture, which is derived from marijuana, he suffered fits triggered by the slightest of stimuli, such as wind.
They say they have "exhausted" their neurologists, looking for ease from the seizures, which with every bout cause more brain damage.
"Some medications made him very aggro and had bad side effects," Mr Smith said.
"Others we would call his 'happy juice' until they, would stop working," he said.
"It makes it hard for us to leave the house, go to special school, and to get out into the community."
The full-time carers took three-hour shift rotations to care for Tom, who could "fit all through the night", until commencing the tincture six months ago.
Initially, the couple tried to wean Tom off conventional medicine, but, a reduction of seizures was achieved from four per day to one per fortnight with 2ml daily of a low potency oil, in conjunction with conventional medicine.
"It's early days, but to us he seems like a much happier boy," said Mr Smith.
"We want to shout it out from the rooftops," said Mrs Smith.
The couple said at special school Tom was the only one using cannabis oil, due to the stigma attached.
"But, there's other kids there having seizures all the time," Mrs Smith said.
"It would be so much more peaceful... if these kids were not having seizures, if they just legalise it."
Earlier this year the Tweed Daily News reported Uki resident Sue McKenna consumed the tincture to treat breast cancer, instead of the prescribed five years of Tamoxifen and mastectomy.
This week Victorian Labor leader Daniel Andrews made medicinal marijuana an election promise, while NSW MP Kevin Anderson will introduce a Private Members Bill at the next sitting to approve cannabis for terminally ill patients.
Hurdles lie with the Australian Medical Association who have concerns about the potential impact on lungs and psychosis, and Therapeutic Goods Association, responsible for regulating pharmaceutical products.
Alan Salt, vice president at The Herb Embassy in Nimbin said if legislators addressed those barriers there was an opportunity to establish an industry similar to the opium poppies in Tasmania, worth $120 million a year.
"They'll have to face it, otherwise they will produce an unworkable bill," he said.
SMOKE IS SUPERIOR
DR ALEX Wodak, president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation and drug and alcohol Emeritus consultant at St Vincent's Hospital said it was crucial to change drug laws so they were "efficient, effective and humane".
"Medicinal cannabis, the evidence is clear, is a useful intervention, especially for people who have distressing medical conditions where conventional medicine doesn't work," Dr Wodak said.
"There is strong advocacy for cannabis oil, but it hasn't been adequately researched.
"The least worst option in 2014 is inhaling the vapour from high quality botanical leaf cannabis."
Cannabis contains at least 60 psycho-active ingredients, referred to as cannabinoids. They come in two main groups, THC, which is stimulating and hallucinogenic, and CBD, which is sedating.
"There's still a lot of research to be done to determine whether the THC-enriched products are better for some conditions, while CBD are better for others," Dr Wodak said.