ACT News

Medical marijuana supplier raided after tip off from Chief Minister

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has defended her decision to report the case of a 2½-year-old NSW girl receiving medical marijuana to treat a rare genetic disorder.  

The girl's mother, Cherie, told ABC Radio's Hack program on Wednesday that her daughter's supplier, who lived in the ACT, had been raided by federal police after he wrote to Ms Gallagher explaining how cannabis oil treatment was helping Abbey, who suffers serious seizures and developmental delays as a result of the disorder CDKL5.

Cherie said she started administering the freely provided cannabis oil to her daughter without her doctor's knowledge after they told her Abbey would most likely die.

DrMichael Freelander, who has treated Abbey since she was born, told the program Abbey was not expected to live longer than a few months but the treatment had seen her improve enough to go home from hospital. 

Cherie said the raid, which came after Ms Gallagher reported the correspondence to authorities, meant Abbey's future was uncertain.

Ms Gallagher, who is also health minister, defended her actions and said she had a legal obligation to report the situation because of the risk to the child.

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''As the law stands at the moment marijuana is a prohibited substance and I have responsibilities on me as Chief Minister under child protection laws, if nothing else, that that information had to be passed on," she told the ABC.

"I had a responsibility under law to do that, and I think the flip side of it would be what if I did nothing with that information and that was later found out that I had just ignored the fact that someone had sent me an email saying they were administering a prohibited substance to a young child."

Ms Gallagher said she had forwarded the email to police and child protective services, rather than instruct or send anyone to raid the property personally.

The debate comes a week after Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury introduced a private member's bill to legalise medical marijuana in the ACT.

Cherie continues to treat Abbey with injections of small amounts of cannabis oil through a feeding tube, leading to a reduction in seizures.

She said the raid had left the family without a continuing supply of the oil, creating a situation of ''life or death'' within weeks.

''I have been told to expect a knock at the door from the police, but I'd do anything for my kids and if this is going to save her life then, of course, I am going to do it,'' Cherie said.

About 800 children worldwide are believed to suffer from CDKL5, which leads to seizures, low muscle tone and audio and visual impairment. 

There is no known cure for the condition. 

Ms Gallagher said on a ''very personal level'', she supported people using marijuana for pain relief, particularly having seen her parents pass away as a result of a terminal illness, but as a lawmaker she acknowledged the difficulties in setting up such a system.

She has previously said she would consider the legislation to legalise marijuana in the territory, which will not pass the assembly without the support of either Labor or the Liberals.

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