Parents seeking cannabis treatment for daughter see door open

If Morgan Oulton’s provincial care home agrees to it, she could get the treatment

By Anjuli Patil, CBC Newsmorgan-oulton.JPG


The parents of a 12-year-old girl with severe epilepsy and autism say the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services is now opening the door for the child to take medicinal cannabis oil at her provincial care home.

Chantelle and Brent Oulton have been fighting for the doctor-prescribed treatment, free of the psychoactive ingredient THC, for their daughter Morgan for months.

But while the department has given the green light, the family said catch is that staff at the Yarmouth Association for Community Residental Options (YACRO), where Morgan receives around-the-clock care, must agree to administer it.

“We want our parental rights back, we want the right to make medical decisions for our daughter,” Chantelle Oulton told a room full of reporters on Wednesday.

Will care home agree?

Chantelle Oulton

Chantelle Oulton has been fighting to get the medically prescribed cannabis oil administered at her daughter’s care home. (Phlis McGregor/CBC)

The mother said she harbours suspicions about the option offered by the department, as YACRO staff are employed by the province.

“Have Community Services and YACRO already discussed this and they already know that YACRO will say no anyway? Therefore we’re really not being given options. That may or may not be the case. Until we talk to YACRO, we won’t be able to make an informed decision,” she said.

The Oultons were joined Wednesday by Brenda Hardiman, chair of Advocating Parents of Nova Scotia, who questioned how the government could “trump a neurologist’s recommendation.”

Traditional drugs didn’t work

“How can that happen? And how could YACRO even say no when what other medications do they not allow to be administered?” Hardiman said.

The Oultons want to try medicinal cannabis for Morgan because they tried 17 different pharmaceutical drugs for their daughter and none worked.

The cannabis oil would be given to their daughter in the form of drops on her tongue while being monitored by physicians and staff.

“One of the arguments we have heard is well how does [medicinal cannibis] affect the developing brain?”  said Chantelle Oulton.

“Our child’s brain did not develop properly in utero to begin with. She has multiple brain abnormalities. There is nothing we’re going to give her that’s going to harm her further than what she’s already had.”

Next steps

Wendy Bungay, the director of child protection with the Department of Community Services, said she could not comment on the Oultons’s case specifically, but the province does look carefully at what interventions are used.

“When a request for a particular intervention is made for a child in care, we need to very carefully evaluate the purpose of that intervention and what the experts would say in terms of whether that’s the appropriate intervention for that particular child’s needs,” said Bungay.

In the past, the province said experts in the medical field have advised against medical marijuana for people under the age of 18.

“For those requests that may be more experimental in nature, we need to really look at what medical professionals are saying and we want to come from a point of first doing no harm,” said Bungay.

Family keen to try medicinal cannabis

The Oultons said they’re keen for their daughter to receive medicinal cannabis because of their research into the success other families experienced with it.

“Ultimately what we would like to see is her have the same level of care that she’s getting through Community Services right now, as far as financially the services they provide, while still retaining our parental rights,” said Chantelle Oulton.

“We don’t see why we have to give up our parental rights for her to get the care that she’s getting.”

The family has legal counsel and is waiting to speak with staff at YACRO before they make any decisions. The other options for the parents include taking their daughter out of care or for the parents to designate someone at the small-options home to make medical decisions for their daughter.

With files from Sabrina Fabian


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