Before Tara O’Connell started taking medical marijuana, she used to have up to 200 seizures a day, with doctors saying she would not live to see her ninth birthday.
That Tara will not only celebrate this milestone on Friday, but that she has also been seizure-free for more than a year, is undoubtedly linked to use of a tincture made from cannabis plants, her mother Cheri O’Connell says.
Now the mother-of-three says she is willing to start a class action against the government to ensure her daughter’s supply.
She is one of hundreds, if not thousands, of people she believes are willing to fight back against laws outlawing marijuana in Australia.
“I will not stop, I will not let my child die because our government is 15 years behind the rest of the world,” Ms O’Connell said.
“If something doesn’t give, I will launch a class action against the government.
“Hundreds, if not thousands, are being denied medication that could save lives.”
Ms O’Connell said the family had tried everything to relieve Tara’s rare condition, a fatal form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome, and at one stage she was taking 18 tablets a day.
“If you looked at an EEG it showed she was having seizures every five to 20 seconds,” Ms O’Connell said.
“We tried everything, in the end they told us to take her home and love her because there was nothing left to try.”.
Doctors advised Ms O’Connell in December 2012 that her daughter would not live to see her ninth birthday. Tara’s miraculous turnaround came about only after she started taking the tincture on Australia Day, 2013. She has been seizure-free since April 3 of that year.
A drop of the tincture is placed under Tara’s tongue and the medicine has been manufactured to be low in THC, which is the compound that produces a “high”.
Ms O’Connell said her daughter, who used to struggle to walk and used a wheelchair, has improved so much that she is “walking, talking, reading, things we thought she would never do”.
She is also giving the tincture to her son Sean, 12, who has a less severe form of epilepsy and is also seizure-free.
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