Nicole Cowles gives her 8 year old daughter Alice cannabis oil to help control her life-threatening seizures. Alice has a rare genetic disorder known as CDKL-5 which includes a form of epilepsy. Nicole says that the cannabis oil is the only thing that’s working to reduce the 20 or 30 seizures Alice can have in a day. Nicole says she can’t be sure what’s in the oil she gives Alice because it’s illegal to test it. “When you’re faced with losing your child or trialling something that you’re told you shouldn’t trial, it’s not really a choice, you trial it”.
Tony Bower provides cannabis oil to Nicole and hundreds of others around Australia. He calls his product medical cannabis tincture; although he says he’s not a doctor. Tony maintains he doesn’t provide cannabis oil to children, “I give it to the parents, the parents choose what they do with it”. Tony was convicted in August this year of cultivating a commercial quantity of cannabis and sentenced to 12 months jail. He is currently on bail and is appealing the severity of his sentence.
Bianca’s 10 year old son Declan also has a rare form of epilepsy, known as F.I.R.E.S. She says she will not will not use cannabis oil unless it’s legal, supervised by a doctor or as part of a clinical trial. Bianca is concerned about how any new treatment might interact with some of the other medications Declan is on.
Prof. Ingrid Scheffer is a child neurologist who is concerned about the number of her patients who are using or want to use cannabis oil to treat their various kinds of epilepsy. She’s worried that positive media reports about cannabis oil are overlooking the need for proper randomised placebo controlled trials which also look for side effects. Ingrid says that no true large scale studies have been done, although there is one underway overseas which she is advising on.
Damon Adams is a former police officer and member of the Australian Navy. He says he uses cannabis for pain relief from a knee injury, as well as recreationally. His preferred method of use is a vaporiser, but would use a bong or biscuits too. Damon unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the Australian Senate in the 2013 Federal Election for the Drug Law Reform party.
Prof. Milton Cohen is a specialist pain medicine doctor. Milton says there is evidence that pharmaceutical cannabis can relieve some types of pain but there is not good evidence to support the use of cannabis for all kinds of pain. He’s concerned about the safety of the cannabis oil currently being provided to people.
Andrew Katelaris is a de-registered doctor who makes his own cannabis oil. He says that “there’s no human disease that cannot be touched in some way by cannabis”. Andrew supplies cannabis oil to 12 children with different forms of epilepsy.