Vera’s Long Walk


Vera Twomeyt’s daughter Ava has Dravets Syndrom,an extremely rare drug resistant epilepsy.

Martin McMahon writes:

William Brooke O’Shaughnessy was born in Limerick in 1809. He first studied medicine at Trinity in Dublin before transferring to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland from where he graduated in 1829.

O’Shaughnessy joined the British East India Company in 1833 and moved to Calcutta, remaining in India for approximately nine years where he fulfilled the roles of surgeon, physician, professor of chemistry at Medical College and Hospital Kolkata.

His medical research led to the development of intravenous therapy and introduced the therapeutic use of Cannabis sativa to Western medicine.

O’ Shaughnessy established his reputation by successfully relieving the pain of rheumatism and stilling the convulsions of an infant with cannabis.

This led O’Shaughnessy to declare that “the profession has gained an anti-convulsive remedy of the greatest value”. In 1856 he was knighted by Queen Victoria.

Today, Vera Twomey is walking from Cork to Dublin to fight for medical cannabis for her daughter Ava who is denied access to medical cannabis by draconian and unnecessarily restrictive conditions established under Health Minister Simon Harris.

Thanks to a famous Limerick man we know the science is solid, it remains to be seen if the actions of a brave Cork woman can overcome these nonsensical and damaging restrictions.

You can follow Vera’s long walk on twitter #veratwomey

Martin blogs at RamshornRepublic

Petition: Medicinal Cannabis Leglislation To Save Our Daughter (

Pics: Jim Coughlan

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52 thoughts on “Vera’s Long Walk

  1. rotide

    So ‘we know the science is solid’ without any citations or evidence of this?

    Also, wouldn’t I be right in thinking that the “draconian and unnecessarily restrictive conditions established under Health Minister Simon Harris.” were completely non-existant before he implemented them?

    1. Joe cool

      You don’t think it works?. Despite doctor after doctor, research after research and the evidence for all to see?

      1. rotide

        I don’t know if it does work or not. It seems to but If I want to know if it does or not I’ll do some actual research and not take the word of some randomer on the internet citing a dude from 100 years ago with no actual evidence. K?

          1. Rob_G

            Mmmm, actually is was Martin who is making the claims, so I think the onus is on him to pony up his evidence first.

            That being said, I wish Vera and Ava all the best

          2. 15p

            the evidence IS there .. it’s not speculation. It’s used in other countries around the world to ease suffering. It’s not a hocus pocus shot in the dark, works for some not for others .. it’s literally used medicinally across the world. Officiated by State health boards. Not an opinion, not for discussion, just fact.

          3. rotide

            The evidence is not in the post. There’s some stuff about what people did 100 years ago but nothing about modern medical science.
            Your post is more useful than the OPs

    2. Cian

      In the 1800s and 1900s opium, morphine and heroin were regularly prescribed by doctors for coughs, sleeplessness and to ‘calm fussy babies’. Anybody quoting O’Shaughnessy must be careful with their conclusions.

      1. Listrade

        Isaac Newton believed in Alchemy, that the Bible was a prophecy and you could calculate the end of the world from it and that gravity and the laws of motion were proof of God’s existence. None of this has any bearing on the use and accuracy of his work on calculus, optics, mechanics and gravitation.

        Anybody using the logical fallacy of poisoning the well must be careful of their conclusions.

      1. Biddy

        It’s your basic blueshirt knee jerk defence, anything that even hints at criticism of a Ministerial decision is knocked down regardless of the genuine concerns and evidence behind it. Too lazy to check it out for themselves.

        1. rotide

          For the hard of thinking like you two:

          Medicinal cannabis did not exist legally before that bill. Bit early to be using the hyperbole above for something that didn’t exist 6 months ago.

          Anne, according to your ninja google talents, ‘Draconian’ means not opposing something?

          1. Anne

            “Medicinal cannabis did not exist legally before that bill. Bit early to be using the hyperbole above”

            Indeed Rotsey.
            So it might be prudent to do a little research before you say you don’t know whether it works or not. I mean if a fupping bill was passed in this country, albeit a very limited bill, like there might be some evidence that it works.

            Like if you don’t want to take the word of people on the internets, just do a little googling before you get on your high horse.
            You’re welcome.

      2. Cian

        from that RTE article: “On 1 Dec 2016 The Dáil passed a bill to make cannabis available in Ireland for medicinal use, after the Government said it would not oppose the legislation.”
        I’m confused – so Harris didn’t stop this bill and hasn’t actually established “draconian and unnecessarily restrictive conditions” on cannibals?

          1. Biddy

            The effort would be wasted on you rotide, some minds are already too crowded to absorb new information. You reached your peak at 4.

          2. rotide

            In other words, you can’t actually point out anything draconian and unnecessarily restrictive about the above.

        1. Anne

          “I’m confused – so Harris didn’t stop this bill ”

          Vera can’t get medical marijuana for her daughter as the government are advising her that they can’t get a paediatric neurologist to give the go ahead for the use of the product for her daughter.


          1. Anne

            Actually, I think they’re telling her go get a peadiatric neurologist herself to give their approval and she can’t get one.

          2. Ruairi

            Hi Ann, no this bill wasn’t stopped, it was worse than that. You can only obtain high concentration THC if you suffer from the after effects of Chemo, nothing else. No the treatment of tumours, epilepsy or even radiotherapy, just the sickness that comes with Chemotherapy.
            So it was passed for all the wrong reasons, and strictly limited to a certain group of people.

  2. RuilleBuille

    We should all meet this poor woman when she arrives in Dublin and show our disgust at the treatment (or lack of it) that Ava is receiving.

    On a personal level I was at university with a girl who had MS. She regularly took cannabis to ease either her pain or nausea (I don’t know which) but she said she would never have finished the degree only for the cannabis.

    1. Cian

      I work with people that regularly take homeopathic remedies and swear by them. That doesn’t mean that they work, or should be paid for by the HSE.

      1. Listrade

        Utter bovine effluvia of a comparison. Difference being, homeopathic remedies don’t have actual research like this demonstrating efficacy:;jsessionid=7F7C3615A64941373444AE7555A82F6A.f02t04

        “Studies of medical cannabis show significant improvement in various types of pain and muscle spasticity. Reported adverse effects are typically not serious, with the most common being dizziness.”

        We also have actual cannabinoids medication too. Tested. Licensed. Approved.

        Again. Not the case for homeopathy. It is very very simple. It has been tested and proven to be effective for a number of conditions to the point where it is no longer debated. It isn’t just anecdotal evidence, it is actual scientific evidence and they are producing medicines on that basis.

        The limitations are in its effectiveness in treating cancer. As of yet, there haven’t been enough tests to be conclusive on reducing tumors. Most of the cases that are trotted around on this are anecdotal and should be treated with caution and scepticism…for now. But that is the only cannabinoids you can draw between cannabinoids and homeopathy.

        1. Cian

          I was trying to say that RuilleBuille’s “On a personal level I was at university with a girl who had MS” is anecdotal and not particularly useful. You, on the other hand, have provided much better information – thanks.

  3. Brother Barnabas

    courage, strength and dignity of mothers

    if we had a government cabinet of mothers, we’d be grand

    1. jusayinlike

      Harris wants out of health just like Leo did, he’ll only show his mug when there’s a pr gig for big pharma..

        1. mildred st. meadowlark

          Someone with the balls to do what is needed.

          Next on the list of things that’ll never happen…

          1. Cian

            Unfortunately it’s not mine to offer. (personally I wouldn’t take that position).
            Out of curiosity, if you did get it, what would you plan to do in your first year?

          2. mildred st. meadowlark

            This is an over-simplification, obvs, for the purposes of a relatively short answer but I think it starts from the team of people you put around you.

            I have no medical experience, barring my own as a citizen in our public hospitals, so I reckon you need people (not cronies) with actual experience.

            The whole system of the HSE is so flawed that an entire restructuring is needed. I think you’d have to tackle either everything at once (virtually impossible) or work on one thing at a time.

            If the system in place for running the HSE is broken, then we need to look at how it is run. That means a gutting of ineffective/excess staff. More managers does not make it better run. I think having clear and strict management protocol is needed. Follow up with serious and crucial investment into front-line services and that means giving providing a wage and working conditions that are competitive and attractive to our highly skilled and well trained doctors and nurses. We need to develop a reputation as a country where our health services are not resembling third world services.

            And actually, I think that the people involved in delivering healthcare – the actual people out there doing the hard work day in, day out, are the single most important part of the mechanism of the HSE, and they are the ones who’ve constantly been neglected and ignored, especially in recent years and I think if the government were to show a sincere interest in investing and improving the health service, it would go a long way.

            Apologies for the rambling incoherence of the answer.

          3. Cian

            Thanks for your reply Mildred – its not quite what I expected! :-)

            Yes the HSE is a mess, but the underlying system is a mess. The Minister doesn’t have control of the HSE.
            The HSE doesn’t have control over a *lot* of the underlying centres of care. To pick one example: St Vincent’s hospital is a voluntary hospital, and while the majority of their funding comes from the HSE, the actual running of the hospital, the employment, and remuneration is up to themselves. The is the same across half the other hospitals, and much of the community care too.
            So all the minister can do is ask the HSE, who is turn can make recommendations to the individual hospitals.

          4. mildred st. meadowlark

            I didn’t know that. And makes me wonder why there isn’t a level of cohesiveness between hospitals. Surely if there are hospitals where one is implementing HSE recommended changes, and another is not, it makes for a patchy and irregular health service.

            And I forgot to add in my previous comment, that we need a permanent health minister – one independent of political affiliation. It’s not a job that should change with every bloody cabinet reshuffle. How can any useful long-term change be implemented if a new guy is in the position every couple of years. It’s farcical.

  4. Inoeprah!

    pharma will fight cannabis legalisation to the end. As someone who recently made the decision to no longer take anti depressants, I can see the agenda clearly

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