Medical marijuana: Couple fears for daughter after supplier charged

FAMILY: Tara, David, Jasmine, Cheri and Sean O'Connell at their Mia Mia home.
 Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

FAMILY: Tara, David, Jasmine, Cheri and Sean O'Connell at their Mia Mia home. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

If he's jailed for two years then that's it: game over, Tara will die." - Cheri O'Connell

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MIA MIA parents Cheri and David O'Connell fear their daughter 'will die' if the supply of medical cannabis she relies on to control her severe epilepsy is stopped.

The couple's daughter Tara, 8, has Dravet Syndrome and suffered more than 200 life-threatening seizures a day before she started taking medical cannabis in 2012.

She has not had a seizure since.

But the man who supplies the cannabis to the family, Tony Bower of Mulaways Medical Cannabis, has been arrested and will face a NSW court on drug trafficking charges on May 28.

Ms O'Connell said the family had enough supplies to last them for a few months but if Mr Bower was jailed for longer the family would find themselves in a dire situation.

"If he's jailed for two years then that's it: game over, Tara will die," Ms O'Connell said.

"I'm so angry."

"We can't really make any plans anymore; we don't know what the future holds.''

Mulaways Medical Cannabis is the only registered medical cannabis company in Australia and Ms O'Connell said she didn't want to get the drug from an underground supplier.

Ms O'Connell said she wanted to continue giving Tara the medicine that had been so effective in treating her severe epilepsy. 

She said that before using the cannabis, Tara was suffering up to 200 seizures a day.

In 2012 Tara was resuscitated eight times and doctors warned that she may not live long past her seventh birthday.

Shortly after this the O'Connells started treating Tara with medical cannabis, as a last resort.

The results were outstanding.

Child Neurology doctor Lindsay Smith wrote of Tara’s improvement that it was “nothing short of miraculous”. 

Since taking the cannabis Tara hasn't suffered one seizure and her parents have been given their lives back.

Ms O'Connell can now take Tara out in public - something she couldn't do previously - and Tara, who is also intellectually impaired, now goes to school part-time.

Ms O'Connell said she knew of hundreds of other families who were using medical marijuana and urged the Therapeutic Goods Administration to conduct medical trials examining its effectiveness.

 She said that if scientific research proved that medical cannabis was effective, state governments would be much more likely to legalise its cultivation.

Currently, it is illegal to grow or possess cannabis in all states of Australia and to test the effectiveness of medical cannabis would require people to break the law to grow it.

A spokeswoman for the TGA said the decriminalisation of cannabis was an option that the state and territory governments could pursue.

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