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Medical cannabis: 'I'll be their test guinea pig'

NORMAL LIFE: Mark and Tracey Aldworth.
NORMAL LIFE: Mark and Tracey Aldworth. Mike Richards

MARK Aldworth wants nothing more than to be able to work again, or even complete basic household chores.

In 1997, working a security job, Mark was struck on the head with a sledge hammer. It left him with a debilitating case of epilepsy, as well as many other health issues.

The 49-year-old lost parts of his memory and had to re-learn how to walk, spell, read and write - all with the support of his family.

Almost 20 years later, Mark still takes daily medication to keep the seizures at bay.

But the pills don't come without their side effects.

And a result of taking handfuls of medications and being limited in what he can do physically, Mark has put on 60kg; that in itself has brought about a range of other problems.

"I have been taking these pills for years now, and while they do the job, the rest of my body doesn't agree," he said.

"They keep me from living a normal life."

If you had a medical condition, would you try cannabis as a treatment?

This poll ended on 31 October 2015.

Yes, if it eases pain and symptoms I don't see a problem. - 73%

No, there are potential side effects to cannabis too. - 1%

I'd make my decision after medical trials finished. - 5%

I have already used it to treat a condition. - 19%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Mark's condition has been hard on his family, too.

"When we brought him back from the hospital finally after the incident, we didn't really know what to do next," wife Tracey said.

"Almost immediately he started having a seizure, shaking and vomiting and I had no idea what was happening.

"Now it's something we have come to accept as a family, and plan for."

He's been physically and mentally scarred.

"I can't go near crowds or anywhere with lots of people," Mark said. "I'm absolutely terrified of them, and probably always will be."

It's only been in the past few months Mark has mustered up the courage to go to a restaurant with his family.

"Even when we do go anywhere Mark is constantly looking over his shoulder," Tracey said.

"If we sit down for a meal he will always pick the seat closest to the door, so he has an 'escape route'."

Both agree, if there was one thing they could change about their situation, it would be the constant pain Mark is in.

He said his hopes were buoyed when he read the news on Saturday at gladstoneobserver.com.au that the Turnbull government would seek parliamentary support to allow the controlled cultivation of cannabis for medicinal or scientific purposes in Australia.

It would deliver patients access to a safe, legal and sustainable supply of locally produced products for the first time.

Health Minister Sussan Ley said the government was currently in the process of finalising draft amendments to the Narcotics Drugs Act 1967.

"I have seen the effects of controlled medicinal cannabis use though documentaries and through friends and it's helping people like me," Mark said.

"They can have jobs and live a normal, painless life. That's all I want. My muscles are so tired and worn out, there has to be something."

Mark still suffers from absentee seizures every three to four hours daily. Once the seizure has hit he can remain completely still and unaware of his surroundings for minutes at a time.

Or as he would describe them "when all the lights are on, but no one's home".

"If there's a chance it can help me, or at least allow me to support my family again, I'll be their test guinea pig," he said.

"The answer is right in front of our eyes. We know it works we have seen the stories and positive results. It's time for us Australians to take the next step in medical research and get aboard with something that has proven to be successful."

Topics:  epilepsy gladstone health medical cannabis



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