Brisbane’s mom, Lanai Carter, isn’t sure how to get her son’s next medical cannabis recipe bottled.
Lindsay Carter, 22, has used both cannabis oil and cannabis flower for years to treat seizures caused by a brain tumor that he was diagnosed with in 2013.
In 2015, a year before its use became legal in Australia, his family became the first in the country to receive special permits to import botanical medicinal cannabis.
Lanai Carter and her son Lindsay have been fighting for adequate access to medical cannabis to treat his seizures since 2014. (Photo: Gary Mills / Mills Photography)
The difference treatment makes for her son is life changing, says Ms. Carter.
“If we can get treatment, his seizure level has to be as low as one attack a week,” she said.
“Without medical cannabis oil, he can suffer between five tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures per day and up to 20 partial seizures per day.”
A critical part of Lindsay’s treatment, which involves ingesting a certain type of THC cannabis oil, has largely been unavailable in Australia since 2018 due to supply problems.
The cannabis flower that Lindsay uses has also been hit by out of stock issues recently, partly due to high demand.
The family had to pay up to $ 8,000 a month for Lindsay’s treatment and often had to rely on donations to afford his medical treatment.
Lindsay Carter was no longer able to write a Christmas card, but wrote his school essays again thanks to medical cannabis, says his mother. (Delivered)
It’s a fight the Carters face all the time.
“When Lindsay knows that his medicine is about to run out, I see that look of absolute horror on his face,” said Mrs. Carter.
Earlier this month, Lindsay started rationing his remaining doses and almost ended up in the hospital, Ms. Carter said.
“He ran out of vaporized cannabis and had two seizures in the same morning and vomited after both attacks. We really struggled to keep him out of the hospital that day.”
Ms. Carter and her son have battled the battle for consistent and affordable supplies of medical cannabis since he was diagnosed at the age of 14.
The Carter family was one of the best-known campaigns for medical cannabis legalization in Australia back in 2014.
However, 18 months after legalization in 2016, the Carters were still forced to fly to Canada to get the medical cannabis Lindsay needed due to a lack of supplies here.
After years of headlines The New York Times called Lindsay the “reluctant poster child” for medical cannabis in Australia.
Mrs. Carter said her son just wanted to get on with his life.
“He never wants to see himself as disabled as much as he had to put up with it,” she said.
“He just wants to be a normal young adult and be able to live without the fear of always worrying about where his medicine is coming from.”
Lindsay Carter was the first Australian patient to receive permission to import medical cannabis in 2014. Photo: Gary Mills / Mills Photography. (Photo: Gary Mills / Mills Photography)
Ms. Carter said the intense frustration she was feeling forced her to speak out again for her son and other medical cannabis patients now.
“In Australia, it’s almost like medicinal cannabis is available to the rich and famous, not the poor and the disabled,” she said.
“Aside from some very limited compassionate access regulations in children’s hospitals, there is nothing for children like my son.”
Ms. Carter said she hoped the government could make some changes to make medical cannabis more affordable, such as coverage under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
A spokesman for the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) said health assistance is the responsibility of the health department, not the NDIS.
The NDIS does not fund any support provided by the health system, including medical and clinical treatment services and medicines.
This remains the responsibility of the state and territory governments, the spokesman said.
The health department has yet to respond to nine.com.au’s request for a comment.
Access to medical cannabis is granted under a Special access scheme operated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Under the program, doctors can provide a restricted prescription for medical cannabis if patients can demonstrate they have a medical reason to do so.
The demand for medical cannabis has more than doubled in the past year.
Last month, the TGA approved more than 8,000 medical cannabis applications.
In 2020, the number of registrations reached almost 100,000.
Matt Cantelo is the CEO of the Australian Natural Therapeutics Group (ANTG), one of the largest growers and producers of medicinal cannabis in Australia.
Mr Cantelo said despite the record number of Australians using medical cannabis, there are still many negative perceptions about the drug due to stigma among doctors.
His Armidale facility was recently licensed to manufacture large quantities of medicinal cannabis oil for commercial use – a move he hopes will mean more affordable access for Australian patients.
“Many patients in Australia are unable to afford the running costs of imported medical cannabis – that can be tens of thousands of dollars a year to treat illnesses such as seizures caused by epilepsy,” he said.
“We see patients being forced onto the black market or even trying to develop their own, which is neither legal nor safe.”
ANTG plans to launch four new varieties of medical grade Australian cannabis oils within the next month.
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