A three-year-old boy with a catastrophic form of epilepsy has become the first person in Ireland to be legally allowed use marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Tristan Forde from Dunmanway, Co Cork who suffers from Dravet Syndrome, has lived in Colorado in the United States for over a year with his mother Yvonne. She decided to relocate in order to administer the medicinal marijuana to her son in a bid to help reduce the number and severity of his seizures.
Tristan has been seizure-free for over three months.
Yvonne Cahalane, who applied to Minister for Health, Simon Harris for the licence, said she was delighted it had been approved just days after they returned to Ireland.
"He is the first wee man in Irish history to be legally allowed access medicinal marijuana in Ireland. We are thrilled. We got a call yesterday and confirmation yesterday that his application is approved," Ms Cahalane told C103's Cork Today Programme.
“It has been frustrating. None of this has been rosy or plain sailing. It has taken years. Mainly because there was no such thing as an application process before we left, so they had to design an application process, which took the majority of the waiting time.”
Tristan turns three on St Stephen’s Day, and is happy to be reunited with his dad John who stayed in Dunmanway for work reasons. His older brother, Oscar (4), was also with him Stateside.
Ms Cahalane said she was thrilled to be able to be of assistance to families in similar situations.
“Others will have this option now. They need to know, and be aware, that they have an option now instead of considering to self medicate. They can go to a doctors and discuss this with them, to work with them, to go ahead and make their application.
“Tristan has never been hospitalised since he started cannabis treatment. He is doing great and is very happy.”
Prior to Tristan’s cannabis treatment his condition was so severe that his parents were left with little choice but to put a helmet on him.
Tristan and his mother were among a small group of expats in Colorado, also known as “international medical marijuana refugees”.
Upon his arrival back in Cork last week little Tristan was granted the honour of turning on the Christmas lights in Dunmanway.
He was diagnosed in late 2014 with Dravet Syndrome — a rare and severe form of epilepsy. He was suffering up to 20 seizures a day, with some of the more severe seizures lasting an hour.
Ms Cahalane said the medication to keep his seizures under control — CBD oil and THCA, both derived from the marijuana plant - had transformed his life.