An Irish mother, from County Cork, may have just sparked a breakthrough in the case for medicinal cannabis in the Republic of Ireland.
Vera Twomey’s 6 year old daughter Ava suffers from a rare form of epilepsy known as Dravets syndrome. Twomey has been treating Ava’s frequent, violent seizures with THC, a component of cannabis which is currently subject to clinical trials – with positive results.
Twomey has had her own success treating Ava’s seizures with THC – seeing the amount decline rapidly from hundreds per month to less then ten. THC, however, is illegal in the Republic of Ireland, leaving Twomey in a frustrating, precarious position.
Last Thursday, Twomey set out on a 150 mile march – between the small village of Aghabullogue in County Cork to the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) in Dublin, to raise awareness of her struggle.
After 9 hours of walking, 21 miles into her journey, Twomey received a call. It was Irish Health Minister Simon Harris, inviting her to meet with him next week to discuss what could be done about her cause.
Not long afterwards, Harris tweeted about their talk:
Following on from the announcements on social media, a press release on the Irish Department of Health website contains a statement from Minister Harris:
‘This is not a discussion about decriminalising cannabis in any way shape or form, it is about reviewing our current policy and seeking to inform ourselves of the latest medical and scientific evidence on the potential medical benefits of cannabis for some people with certain medical conditions’, the Minister said.
Commenting, Minister Harris said; ‘since coming into office I have had initial discussions with my officials, medical experts, patients and members of the Oireachtas. I am therefore very pleased to understand from the Chair of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Dr Harty, that the Committee is planning to discuss this issue later this month.’
As a dialogue opens between campaigners and politicians, signs bode well for future steps towards policy reform. We will be keeping you updated as further news emerges over the coming weeks.
Volte Face/Nov. 7, 2016
Photos: Diego López, flickr