Health Canada Rules Require Liam McKnight, Child With Epilepsy, To Smoke Marijuana

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LIAM MCKNIGHT
Health Canada's regulations on medical marijuana are making it difficult for six-year-old epilepsy patient Liam McKnight to get access to marijuana oil. | facebook

Liam McKnight was nine months old when he had his first seizure.

The six-year-old, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome, experienced dozens of seizures per day – until he started using marijuana oil for treatment.

“It’s just giving him an opportunity to live, to not just be home seizing,” Liam’s mother Mandy McKnight told The Telegram.

Although finding a doctor who would prescribe Liam medical marijuana took a cross-Canada search, Liam received a license to use marijuana for his treatment at age five. Since then, he’s taken a small amount of the oil at bedtime every night.

However, McKnight is now struggling to provide her son with treatment after April's changes to medical marijuana laws. Under Health Canada’s Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, by-products of the drug – such as oils and baked goods – are prohibited.

“Health Canada says Liam has to smoke it or he has to vaporize it,” McKnight told the National Post.

Getting the oil for Liam is a costly and time consuming process, McKnight told the Post.

Each month, the Ottawa family receives 150 grams of dried marijuana from a licensed provider. They then have to send it to Montreal, where it is turned into oil. It is then sent back to McKnight, who sends it to British Columbia to be tested. Only then is Liam able to get his treatments.

“I really hope that somebody at Health Canada or somebody in this government just finally stands up and says, “OK, this is ridiculous. We need to help these kids,’” McKnight told the Post.

Liam’s family isn’t the only family struggling to provide medicinal marijuana for their child. In order to provide the oil for two-year-old Kayla Williams, who often suffers up to 100 seizures a day, her family had to “meet someone in a parking lot.”

The family says that once the drug was administered, Kayla's seizures stopped almost immediately.

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