Children with severe epilepsy will be the first in Australia to be given access to medicinal cannabis next year, with the Victorian government last night giving the green light to legalising the drug for medical use.
The passing of an historic bill in parliament overnight paves the way for legally manufacturing, supplying and accessing medicinal cannabis products in Victoria.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy says, “It is absolutely heart-breaking to see families having to choose between breaking the law and watching their children suffer – and now, thanks to our ground-breaking legislation, they won’t have to.”
Children will be given first access to medicinal cannabis from early 2017.
Last year, Babyology spoke to Cheri O’Connell, who was calling for an earlier start date to the legalisation of medical cannabis, amid concerns children with severe epilepsy, like her daughter, would continue to suffer while they wait.
“Who is going to explain to the parents whose children die waiting, why they weren’t important enough to be helped now?”
Cheri says she’s seen remarkable changes in her daughter Tara, since she started treatment with medicinal cannabis in 2013.
“Tara has gone from spending probably 80 per cent of her time in a wheelchair to walking everywhere,” Cheri tells Babyology. “She has totally toilet trained. Tara’s IQ has been recorded as going from too low to score to 59. And most importantly her seizures have stopped – last seizure [was in] April 2013 and she is now pharmacy free.”
A newly-created Office of Medicinal Cannabis will work with medical professionals, patients and their families to provide education about medicinal cannabis, and their eligibility for the scheme.