Medicinal cannabis legalisation gives hope to Balga family


Elizabeth Sturzaker and son John Sturzaker (13). Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Elizabeth Sturzaker and son John Sturzaker (13). Picture: Andrew Ritchie

A BALGA mother has welcomed the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in WA and hopes the drug can help her son’s battle with a rare type of epilepsy.

Medicinal cannabis became legal in WA as a controlled drug for research and medicinal purposes on November 1 but is expected to be available in early 2017.

Doctors can submit applications for their patients to the Department of Health.

Elizabeth Sturzaker’s son John (13) has suffered from West syndrome, which involves severe seizures and intellectual disability, from nine months of age.

Ms Sturzaker said the medicine that her son took came with plenty of side effects.

“(Medicinal cannabis) would be a positive outcome for him and being able to function properly without having to be drugged up all the time,” she said.

“I would love to trial it and see whether it does work for him, we have tried so many other things like the ketogenic diet that was all on fat .

“Just to have something that would possibly make his life a little bit better, it would be great to see the changes.”

Ms Sturzaker said John’s condition was improving but her family were used to his daily seizures.

Australian Medical Association WA president Andrew Miller said medicinal cannabis was one or two of the hundreds of chemicals found in the plant.

“These derivatives are not the all-curing wonder drug that some advocates claim, and are only effective in a very limited scope of medicine,” he said.

“Preliminary findings show it is quite effective in helping patients suffering from spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, but in other areas there are other drugs already approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration that are as, or more, effective.”

Dr Miller said the drug was “very unlikely” to have wide applications that will sustain a significant industry.

“There needs to be more robust studies on the safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis before it is used in other areas where we already have medicines,” he said.