Epilepsy Foundation sympathetic to parent's plight

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THE Epilepsy Foundation say they are understanding of why people resort to medicinal marijuana to help with uncontrollable seizures. 

Client services manager Gean Ewing was sympathetic of parents' plight and said many would try anything to cure their child's suffering. 

"With uncontrollable seizures, your whole life is impacted and if you find something that appears to work, it's very difficult to not go down that road," she said. 

"(But) it remains illegal and we don't endorse it and don't recommend it."

She said the foundation supported further medical testing of the drug - to enable proper discussion of the issue. 

"We have certainly had people approach us asking what to do - whether to take it," she said. 

"We know of at least three families in Victoria taking medicinal marijuana and testing on the side effects would certainly be helpful to form an opinion."

Ms Ewing said despite readily-available medication, some people continued to suffer uncontrollable seizures. 

"The reality is that 30 per cent of people do not get seizure control, despite trying all medications and even having surgery," she said. 

"There is no quality of life for them or their family and parents only want what's best for their child.

"If you asked them to stand on their head in a particular area for a certain time to help cure their child, most would probably try."

Ms Ewing said she was not aware of any cases that medicinal marijuana had made symptoms worse, however it was unknown what long-term side effects could occur as a result.

The Australian Medical Association says while there is growing evidence that marijuana can be used effectively to treat some conditions, extensive testing is required.

Victorian vice-president Tony Bartone said public education was required to highlight the harmful effects of its non-medical use, including its correlation with mental illness.

“There is a growing body of evidence on cannabis as an effective treatment for
some types of chronic pain, the control of muscle spasticity, some forms of
nausea and as an appetite-stimulant in patients with weight loss due to cancer or
HIV,” Dr Bartone said.

“AMA Victoria acknowledges that cannabis is used legally for these medical
purposes in places such as Canada, the USA, the UK and Germany."

"In Australia, extensive clinical trials must be undertaken for any new medicine.
This should apply to medicinal cannabis as well."

He said AMA Victoria would support more research into the administration of
medicinal cannabis.

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