Medicinal cannabis is treated as a miracle drug overseas, but in Australia we are still fighting for the opportunity to help those in need to access it.
Imagine that your child has drug-resistant epilepsy, and no pharmaceutical provides the relief or aid needed. Imagine that you’ve heard of this miracle drug that could treat the condition, but you’re faced with huge legal blockades and remain unable to truly help your child.
Tim Harding, former Hi 5 member, has been fighting for his six-year-old daughter to trial medicinal cannabis. Arielle has a case of drug resistant epilepsy and faces a multitude of small seizures a day. Unfortunately, Arielle does not meet the criteria to participate in a trial undertaken by her neurologist, and now Tim has been left at a loss for what to do for his child. She is currently recieving no treatment.
“[Arielle’s epilepsy] doesn’t respond to medication. We’ve tried 5 different medications, we’ve tried the ketogenic diet, different treatments and things that people have recommended, but nothing has really worked.”
What troubles this situation is that there is an alternative available, but Australia is not making it accessible for those like Tim and his daughter, who are running out of options.
“We found these massive road blocks in terms of access, and just huge amounts of red tape. Even if you go through all of that, you’re talking thousands of dollars a month.”
Tim has conducted a large amount of his own research to attempt to persuade politicians and find the root cause of the controversy around the treatment. This research resulted in what Tim claims to be nothing but “hearsay”, and that we should overcome this stigma and conduct the studies needed to allow easier access and acceptance.
“The notion that this is a dangerous drug has been peddled by various policy makers and the media for 80 years. Because this plant has been demonised over the past 8 decades and we are kind of still living with the hangover from ‘Reefer Madness’”
Tim has been pushing since 2016 for the government to reach an amnesty surrounding medicinal cannabis usage. He believes that the federal government is indeed trying to do their best to make it easier to access, but still no solid results have been achieved.
By pushing for an amnesty, people who are accessing cannabis illegally could still seek advice from health professionals. The issue is that those who self-medicate cannot know how their dosages could affect other pharmaceuticals they’re trying. Tim raises his concern for those in this situation, and the lack of confidence that currently exists in Australia. He states that Arielle hasn’t been able to try medicinal cannabis so it’s not known how it would affect her, but hopefully as blockades are reduced Arielle could use medicinal cannabis as a treatment.
“An amnesty would mean people would be more confident talking to their GP, and ultimately if you are one of those people using cannabis as medicine you should really be able to talk to your GP.”
Tim hosted the Hemp Health and Innovation Expo and Symposium on May 12th and 13th and spoke about his experiences with his daughter as well as his hopes for the future.