Nova Scotia

Family gets go-ahead to give daughter medical cannabis oil

The parents of a 12-year-old girl with severe epilepsy celebrated a quiet victory Friday night as they administered her first dose of medically-prescribed cannabis oil.

The family fought to give their epileptic daughter in care the prescribed oil

Morgan Oulton suffers from severe epilepsy and autism. (Submitted by the Oultons)

The parents of a 12-year-old girl with severe epilepsy celebrated a quiet victory Friday night as they administered her first dose of medically-prescribed cannabis oil after a hard-fought battle.

Morgan Oulton was born with multiple brain abnormalities and suffers from various forms of epilepsy. She also has autism.

After a lifetime of traditional pharmaceutical drugs, Morgan's parents Chantelle and Brent decided they wanted to try cannabis oil.

"We'd exhausted all other pharmaceutical treatments, and she wasn't a candidate for surgery," Chantelle Oulton said. "We had basically run out of options."

Bureaucratic battle

Getting the prescription from a doctor wasn't the hard part for the Oultons — but because Morgan was living in provincial care, the Oultons had to go to battle with the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services for their daughter to be allowed to take the medication while in care.

When the Oultons placed Morgan in care less than a year ago, they were told they needed to sign over custody of their child to the province, which Oulton said was the hardest decision the family had ever had to make.  

Chantelle Oulton fought to get the medically prescribed cannabis oil administered at her daughter's care home. (Phlis McGregor/CBC)

Last month, the family was offered a new agreement that allowed the Oultons to take back parental rights for their daughter, including all medical decisions, while still allowing Morgan to live at the care home.

Now the department will pay for her placement, while leaving responsibility for other expenses to the family. 

Green light

On Thursday, the department technically gave the family the green light to administer medical cannabis.

"They're not really consenting to it, but they're not standing in our way," Oulton said.

"Until all the 'T's are crossed and all the 'I's are dotted, and full parental rights are back in our hands, I don't think we'll have a full celebration until that's done."

Improvements already

But for now, the family is hopeful. Oulton says Morgan`s first dose was very small, but the dose will increase over the next six weeks. Oulton says after just two doses, she has already seen her daughter's appetite improve, her cognitive ability start to return and a minor reduction in her seizures.

She says right now the treatment is experimental and considered the last resort for doctors, but she believes that is going to change in the upcoming years.

"Trials such as Morgan's [are] how we are going to get the data to get this more mainstream medicine," she said.

"We have seen a reduction — minor, but still a reduction — in seizures."

About the Author

Carly Stagg

Web writer

Carly Stagg joined CBC News in 2014. A graduate of Carleton University's school of journalism, she has worked in newsrooms in Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Hawaii.

With files from Information Morning