A mother who legally treats her daughter’s seizures with cannabis oil has admitted she is also using the drug to treat her six-year-old son’s ADHD.
Cherie and Trevor Dell had already been using medicinal cannabis oil to help treat their three-year-old daughter Abbey, who suffers a rare genetic disorder known as CDKL5, which results in constant violent seizures.
But their decision to also use it on their son Wyatt, 6, could see them fall foul of the authorities.
Wyatt has both autism and attention deficient hyperactivity disorder, which has left him prone to violence.
He has thrown tables around his grade one classroom and made life a misery for his five brothers and sisters.
Having been on ADHD drugs without much improvement, Mrs Dell said she turned to medicinal cannabis meant for his sister. She claims the turnaround has been remarkable.
“He is calmer, he is not having outbursts, we don’t have as many issues with him hurting his brothers and sisters,” Mrs Dell said.
She acknowledges she is breaking the law but says she resents being treated like a criminal.
“I’m definitely made to feel like a criminal but all I am doing is trying to help my son.
“I would never do anything to harm any of my children, I am only doing what I think is best,” she said.
While there are relaxed laws for the use of cannabis oil for children with epilepsy and seizure related disorders and police can use discretion in cases like medical trials, the use of cannabis to treat either autism or ADHD remains illegal.
“I am giving my child a quality of life he doesn’t have on the ADHD medication,” Mrs Dell said.
“Since he’s been on it, he’s been able to learn, he’s gone from not being able to read to level three in one month. Even his teacher has noticed the difference.
At the beginning of this term, she had told me she didn’t know how she was going to cope with the class disruption and violence, but she is amazed at the change.”
Medicinal cannabis campaigner Lucy Haslam, whose late son Dan spearheaded the government turnaround on the use of cannabis for terminal cancer last year, said politicians need to start thinking about the child in this case.
“Twelve months ago the government wouldn’t have even considered cannabis for epilepsy in children, now they accept epileptic children are benefiting but they are scared stiff and not prepared to face the idea that children other than those with paediatric epilepsy may benefit,” Mrs Haslam said.
A spokesman from the department of Family and Community Services said NSW Health advised that any decisions about the use of cannabis-derived medicine, while motivated by compassion, had to be “supported by strong science”.
The department declined to discuss the Dell family.
A German study conducted at the Institute of Legal and Traffic Medicine at Heidelberg University tested the effects of cannabis on 30 patients with ADHD who had limited success with other forms of treatment for the disorder, such as Ritalin and Adderall.
All reported “reduced impulsivity” and “improved concentration and sleep” after using medical cannabis.