Vera Twomey is perhaps one of the most recognisable 'Cannabis Voices' featured in the podcast series so far, thanks to her determined and very public fight with the Irish government to get legal access to medical cannabis for her daughter Ava.
Ava has Dravet Syndrome, a rare and catastrophic type of epilepsy that pharmaceutical drugs have no answer for. Before cannabis, Ava was having hundreds of violent seizures a week and was being regularly rushed to hospital.
Like many parents of children with epilepsy, Vera came across the stories of children like Charlotte Figi who had found CBD and cannabis could control their seizures where pharmaceutical drugs had failed. And so began her very public battle with the Irish government to get Ava legal access to medical cannabis .
Exasperated with the Irish Health Minister's empty promises, Vera took dramatic action. With no preparation (or even a pair of trainers) she decided to walk 200 miles in protest from her home in County Cork the Irish Parliament in Dublin.
By now, the whole of Ireland were supporting Ava, and yet the government still refused to grant her a prescription. And so Vera, Ava and the rest of the family moved to Holland where they joined other families living in exile as medical cannabis refugees.
Under the care of a Dutch pediatric neurologist, Ava's seizures were successfully controlled by a combination of CBD oil and THC oil.
Thankfully, this was enough for the Irish government to give Ava her prescription and the family could finally return home.
As anyone who's read her book 'For Ava' will know, Vera does not pull any punches when it comes to expressing her disdain for the treatment she and her family have received from the Irish government. But it's that fury that has got Ava her prescription and changed the hearts and minds of the Irish people towards medical cannabis.
Be prepared for tears of emotion, tears of frustration and tears of joy in one of the most moving and inspirational podcasts of the series so far.
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For Ava by Vera Twomey
Footage from Vera's walk to Dublin
Vera's speech at the Water demonstration
Vera's acceptance speech at the Irish People of the Year Awards