View Comments
Epilepsy kids given cannabis
Medical cannabis: Used to treat severe epilepsy. Picture: AP

Desperate WA families are resorting to giving their children medical cannabis in a bid to stop dangerous epileptic seizures.

More parents are obtaining free cannabis tincture from home-based manufacturers in the Eastern States after exhausting conventional treatment for their children's severe epilepsy.

The main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol, is removed from the serum so there is no "high".

Supporters say it can cut the rate of seizures with minimal side effects.

Epilepsy Association of WA chief executive Suresh Rajan said he could not endorse the controversial treatment but there seemed to be a groundswell of interest among WA families.

"Anecdotally, there are more mums emailing and talking to me about the fact that they are considering the issue," he said. "Parents are certainly researching the issue for themselves on the internet and then bringing it to my attention to almost seek endorsement."

Mr Rajan said interest seemed to have been triggered by several high-profile cases overseas, including that of six-year-old Charlotte Tigi, from Colorado, who reportedly had a dramatic improvement in her epilepsy after using medical cannabis.

Several Perth women spoke to _The West Australian _, on the condition of anonymity, after trying medical cannabis on their children. A mother of a five-year-old girl said she had been taking the tincture for a week, alongside her normal medication, and the results were promising.

"The day after she started on it she had the best day at school and was able to do all the activities," the woman said. "The teachers all commented on how much better she seemed."

Another woman said her young adult son was using the serum to see if it could help.

The medical use of cannabis is not permitted in Australia except in special circumstances.

Royal Perth Hospital neurologist John Dunne said there was some evidence that cannabinoid preparations could have an anti-epileptic effect, but research was limited because of the illegality of the products and inability to patent them.

In some cases, the preparation could make the epilepsy worse.