Australian Toddler’s Seizure Medication Seized, Parents Questioned

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Last week near Melbourne, Australia, Cassie Batten and Rhett Wallace were arrested for cannabis. Not because they were using it themselves, but because they have been giving a non-psychoactive cannabis tincture to their three-year-old son.

Cooper had been born early, and then he got sick when he was four weeks old. It turned out that he had bacterial meningitis. He suffered severe brain damage, and now has epilepsy,  hydrocephalus, cerebral palsy,and cerebral abscesses. He began to suffer seizures that lasted half an hour.

After plenty of research, the family turned to medical cannabis.  They, like many others in their country, were using Mullaways Cannabinoid Tincture. Cooper has been receiving 1ml of cannabis oil three times daily and 3ml in the evening before bed for over eight months. According to Batten, her son has been nearly seizure-free during that time and has only had to spend 18 days of those eight months in the hospital.

Cooper’s progress has been amazing. Since getting his seizures under control, he has learned to speak and sat up for the first time recently.  The seizures he does have last less than a minute.  His mom was even able to stop giving him eight other medications because of how effective the cannabis treatment proved to be.

None of that stopped police from raiding their home last week, arresting both adults and seizing Cooper’s medicine. Cassie Batten is in her third trimester and suffering incredible stress. Her family is terrified that Cooper, now deprived of his medicine, could die as a a result of his uncontrolled medical symptoms. The man who makes Mullaway is also facing charges and jail time, and supply is uncertain, to say the least.

Surprisingly, Former Australian Federal Police chief Mick Palmer spoke up shortly after the arrests last week, calling for common sense and compassion when dealing with families who have sick children (a novel concept). He is quoted as having said that treating parents who give sick children cannabis like criminals “served no good purpose” and reportedly called on current law enforcement officials to exercise discretion in the case.

While charges have not officially been brought, there is still a chance that Batten could be charged with possessing a drug of dependence and introducing a drug of dependence into the body of another.

Some people supporting the raid and arrests have pointed out that there is no conclusive research that shows cannabis concentrates are effective on childhood epilepsy. Of course, as research moves much more quickly than life-threatening diseases, parents with sick children are being put in the untenable situation of choosing between following the law, waiting for research, and risking it being too late, or choosing to break the law, risking incarceration, as well as the loss of their home and assets in order to give their child their last, best chance at treatment.

It’s refreshing to see someone who is part of the “system” speak out against it, possibly because it seems to happen so rarely. It’s tragic that it often takes extreme circumstances to provoke such a statement. One can only hope that Cooper’s situation inspires others in Australia to demand legal reform.

Ladybud Magazine will continue tracking this and other major prohibition and medical cannabis news stories.

For more stories about the use of cannabis to treat epilepsy, click here.


Photo Credit: By Mullaways (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons