Barry and Joy Lambert’s infant granddaughter Katelyn was having thousands of seizures a day due to Dravet Syndrome, a catastrophic, intractable and incurable form of epilepsy caused by a gene mutation in her brain.
The family was told by the leading medical expert on Dravet Syndrome that if the seizures weren’t stopped Katelyn would have a 16 per cent chance of dying each year and if she survived, she would end up vegetated - unable to walk, talk, feed herself or control her bodily functions.
Desperate, Katelyn’s father searched the internet and discovered that overseas, Dravet Syndrome children were seeing great results from an over-the-counter hemp extract nutraceutical. Hemp is cannabis but with only a minute quantity of THC (0.3 per cent) – that is, it does not give the taker a high and is not known to have any side effects.
Former Taree resident and now human rights and medical cannabis campaigner, Barry Lambert recently told this story to the Rotary Club of Taree.
Mr Lambert said an American court had ruled many years ago that hemp was not marijuana whereas Australia treats hemp the same as marijuana and other dangerous drugs like heroin and opioids. The World Health Organisation recently said CBD (cannabidiol), the main hemp molecule, should be de-scheduled.
The imported over the counter nutraceutical (legal in US but illegal in Australia) stopped Katelyn’s seizures immediately. Now six years old, Katelyn is seizure-free and has not spent a night in hospital for over three years. While still impaired from her prior seizures, her speech is improving and her parents are hopeful she can eventually attend a normal school.
The Lamberts grew up on the Manning. Barry lived at Bootawa and attended Wingham Rural School before finishing his secondary education at Taree High, where he met Joy Cole.
They both excelled at sport, Joy at softball and hockey and Barry was captain of the cricket First XI. Barry’s first job after school was with the local Commonwealth Bank branch in 1964.
The couple became wealthy after selling their ASX listed company Count Financial to the Commonwealth Bank in 2011 for $373 million.
In 2015 they decided others, including the sick and farmers, should benefit from their wealth and this miraculous natural plant extract and sponsored, via a $33.7 million donation, the 10-year “Lambert Initiative” at University of Sydney to do scientific research on medical cannabis.
The Lamberts also made a $4 million sponsorship to the “Lambert Center” at Jefferson University (America’s largest medical university) in Philadelphia to research the all-natural hemp extract. The Lambert Center is confident that an over the counter hemp extract will help to reduce opioid addiction and health costs in the USA.
Since sponsoring the Lambert Initiative and realising the plight Australians are in because of what they say are uncaring and unscientific laws in Australia, the Lamberts have now invested in the Australian company Ecofibre – Barry is chairman.
The company grows around 500 acres of Ananda Hemp (anandahemp.com) in Kentucky USA as well as “Tassie Hemp” food in Tasmania. The Australian Financial Review on January 22, 2018 quoted Mr Lambert saying Ananda Hemp’s parent company is expecting to list on the ASX in early 2019.
Mr Lambert said there is plenty of evidence that full spectrum hemp extract is good for a range of conditions.
He said thousands of Australians, including many Manning locals, are importing hemp extract from overseas and using it with great success.
Barry didn’t hold back in criticising the Australian government’s bureaucracy and regulations for medical hemp.
He said the government only recently approved hemp as a food (regarded as a “super food”) many years after the rest of world had approved hemp seed as a food.
Most doctors have given up on trying to prescribe medical cannabis because of the bureaucracy involved.
Barry related how one doctor recently told a breakfast of senators in Canberra that it took her 22 hours to try and get permission to prescribe medical cannabis for a patient and was she was still unsuccessful.
Sadly, Barry said Katelyn does not qualify for medical cannabis because she is “too well” thanks to Ananda Hemp and she would have to go off Ananda Hemp and start having brain damaging seizures to qualify for the expensive government scheme.
He said even then she would not be prescribed a full hemp extract like Ananda Hemp because the bureaucracy wants a single molecule pharmaceutical solution which does not work for Katelyn.
“Many would see the government’s handling of this matter as crime against humanity,” said Barry.
In USA, Ananda Hemp’s largest clients are independent pharmacies who sell it over the counter to patients for a range of conditions.
“If we treated animals the way the bureaucracy wants to treat Katelyn we would have a TV program calling for an inquiry.”
Barry is strongly of the view that the Senate should as a minimum, hold an inquiry into why our bureaucracy treats sick kids in this manner.