Pubdate: Wed, 15 Jun 2016
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2016 The Halifax Herald Limited
Author: Fram Dinshaw


A few drops of cannabis oil on the tongue could mean the difference
between life and death for young Morgan Oulton.

Now aged 12, the Kentville girl has had life-long epilepsy, recently
suffering severe grand mal seizures that once sent her to hospital and
another time nearly drowned her in a bathtub. She has lived in a
Yarmouth care facility for nine months, has autism, cognitive and
behavioural problems, and is considered a flight risk.

"We're scared that her time's running out. We don't know when the next
seizure's going to be," said her mother Chantelle Oulton, fighting
back tears as she addressed media in Bedford Wednesday alongside her
husband Brent. "She continues to deteriorate."

The Oultons now have a medical prescription for cannabis oil that they
hope will save their daughter from worsening seizures and possible

The cannabis oil is THC-free and will not get a patient high, but its
use in combating epilepsy remains hotly-debated in medical circles,
despite claims that it has cured children of the condition. Some
evidence indicates that it has helped children with seizures.

But their plan to save Morgan has just one hitch: the province so far
has not supported their efforts to start cannabis oil treatment.

Morgan's parents voluntarily placed her into care, but Oulton
described it as "the most heart-wrenching decision that we made."

The province's refusal to support cannabis oil therapy comes despite
backing from paediatric neurologist Dr. Ellen Wood at the IWK and Dr.
Mark Fletcher at the Cannabinoid Medical Clinic Association.

Both doctors agreed that Morgan was an ideal candidate for cannabis
oil as all other treatments had failed.

But a Department of Community Services social worker who attended the
Oultons' cannabis clinic meeting said that Morgan would not be allowed
cannabis oil while in their care.

"Cannabis oil therapy is a last resort option (after) all other
conventional methods have been exhausted. The Department of Community
Services has not provided the family with reasons why they are
overriding recommendations from their paediatric neurologist and from
the Cannabinoid Medical Clinic Association," said Brenda Hardiman at
Advocating Parents Nova Scotia.

The Oultons can bring Morgan home for treatment, but they feel unable
do do that as they cannot provide her the 24-hour care that she needs.

While in care, the facility has the final say on treatment. Lastly,
the Oultons can surrender all custody to the care home.

"The ideal option for us will be to basically have the same care
agreement we have now with them, except having our parental rights
back," said Oulton.

"The Department of Community Services is using a one-size-fits-all
model of care that does not always have the best interests the client
and their care at the forefront.

However Wendy Bungay, Nova Scotia's director of child protection, said
that when it came to experimental treatments like cannabis oil the
department had to exercise caution.

"We have an accountability to children in our care and we have a duty
not to expose those children to unnecessary risks and to ensure what
we use is proven, safe, and effective," said Bungay.

She cited the risk of administering cannabis products to minors, even
though the Oultons said that recent changes to Canada's medical
marijuana laws now mean that minors can take the medication in drop

Morgan has now tried a total of 17 conventional medicines for her
worsening epilepsy. None of them have worked.

But the Oultons remain hopeful that cannabis oil could yet save their

"We hope," Oulton said.

"Of course we don't know whether it'll work," said Chantelle.

"It has for some children. It has completely stopped their seizures,
but we'd be happy with a 20-per-cent reduction. Any reduction. . .will
be a benefit."
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