The desperate parents of terminally ill children are calling on the Queensland government to show compassion and legalise medicinal cannabis.
Mothers who have surveyed Brisbane residents on the issue gathered outside the Queensland Health building on Monday.
Rozanne Burley told how medicinal cannabis had improved the quality of life for her teenage son Adam, who has a rare form of intractable epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome.
She said pharmaceutical drugs triggered horrific side effects amid Adam’s irreversible brain damage, uncontrolled seizures and eating disorder.
Brittle bones from anti-convulsants have also caused him to fracture his hip.
Ms Burley introduced Adam to medicinal cannabis a year and a half ago.
“Within about a month, he started eating again,” she told AAP.
“I took him off a couple of the pharmaceuticals as well and that … along with the medicinal cannabis definitely caused him to be a bit more alert and responsive.”
Ms Burley was visited by police officers who knew about the cannabis.
“They found out about his story and his condition and they actually apologised,” she said.
“They thought I was just a mum giving him cannabis. They sort of turned a blind eye.”
But she’s torn between the risk of criminal charges and wanting to do the right thing as a parent.
“As a mum all I want is quality of life for my child because the drugs have just done nothing for him.”
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has said he was “sympathetic” to the idea of medicinal cannabis, but any decision should be based on information from the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Lanai Carter said both the Liberal National and Labor parties were taking a back seat on the issue.
“It is incredibly frustrating for us,” she said.
New South Wales has planned a $9 million trial for medical cannabis which could potentially treat children with severe epilepsy, terminally ill adults and those undergoing chemotherapy.
But Ms Carter, who has travelled to the US with her son four times for treatment for a brain tumour and epilepsy, said clinical trials were not good enough.
“These children and terminally ill and chronically ill patients are suffering right now. They need that relief now,” she said.
“People are compassionate and it’s time that the government becomes compassionate too.”
The renewed push comes after the court appearance of a 30-year-old Cairns father who was charged with using cannabis oil to treat his cancer-stricken daughter on Friday.
A spokesman for Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg later told AAP there had been no change in the government’s position.
The NSW trial came about after all participants of the Standing Committee on Health acknowledged “the very serious side effects of unsupervised use of marijuana”, he said.
“There are many well documented risks posed by cannabis consumption.”