TEARS of joy were shed in the home of Banksia Grove parents Lyndon and Nicole Poulter when they learned they would have access to medicinal cannabis to treat their daughter Lily’s pain.
The Poulters have been pushing for a change in legislation for more than two years as they medicate Lily’s debilitating Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which causes chronic dislocation in her joints.
The disorder often leaves her needing wheelchair assistance.
She also experiences Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a condition that can cause sudden intense pain in her limbs.
They believe medicinal cannabis will offer better pain relief than her prescribed opiates, which leave the 11-year-old Banksia Grove Primary School student at risk of addiction.
Friday’s State Government announcement that medicinal cannabis would become a controlled drug from November 1 and likely available for use from next year had Mr Poulter “absolutely over the moon”.
“It’s major progress… I burst into tears, it’s such a big weight off our shoulders, we’ve been fighting for over two years now,” he said.
“Lily just has the biggest smile on her face, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
While Lily’s doctors were supportive of the Poulters’ treatment hopes, Mr Poulter was aware it would not be as simple as gaining a prescription from a specialist and picking up the drug at the chemist.
The doctor would need authorisation from the Therapeutic Goods Administration and a yet-to-be-created Department of Health advisory committee.
Mr Poulter also expected it to be expensive initially, given they would have to source it from international companies until Australian farms became established.
As he understood it, he said it would mean the drug would not be discounted under Medicare or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
“It’s going to be fairly expensive, we’re hearing prices of $300 to $1000 for a little vial,” he said.
Mr Poulter was hoping the financial pressure would ease by about 2018 when Australian products were expected to become available.
“It’s still another 12 to 18 months away before we can really get it going, but it’s a huge start,” he said.
WA growers such as AusCann, chaired by former local federal MP Mal Washer, can apply for a licensing permit from next Tuesday.
Indicative of Lily’s plight, the aspiring wheelchair basketballer will endure a knee operation next week, which will have her needing more opiates for pain relief.
Mr Poulter said it was “only an arthroscope”, but it would still need additional medication.
“They’ll have to put her on more (opiate-based meds), which they don’t like doing because it could trigger her tendency to get Complex Regional Pain Syndrome,” he said.