The Lambert Initiative (LI) is an example of taking lemons and making lemonade.
It began in 2014 with Michael Lambert and his young daughter, Katelyn, a victim of Dravet’s Syndrome. None of the conventional medications worked for Katelyn’s seizures and Michael began to look for alternatives. He found it in cannabis but the plant was still illegal in Australia so he imported some cannabis oil from Denmark. When it worked Michael began to grow his own as a backup in case the imported supplies were confiscated. He was arrested.
I met Michael in May 2016 at the United In Compassion seminar in Sydney. Over cocktails he told me about his case and I told him about my husband’s case from 1976, U.S. v Randall, with its decision of medical necessity, founded in Common Law. Necessity is a legal concept set out in the Magna Carter and shared by many nations, including Australia. I felt certain medical necessity could prevail. I was wrong. In June 2017, Michael was found guilty of marijuana manufacturing but received no sentence. The judge explained he “couldn’t set a moral policy.”
It was only later that I would discover Michael was the son of Barry Lambert, a wealthy business man/entrepreneur. The senior Lambert was clearly distressed that his granddaughter could not legally obtain the one medicine that helped. He was repeatedly told “there was no research” and so he made a bold decision, establishing the Lambert Initiative and promising $37 million over the next ten years to research cannabis.
Today the LI is a reality with comfortable offices and state-of-the-art laboratories in the Brain and Health Center on the fringe of the University of Sydney. Work is proceeding full tilt. Young Katelyn Lambert has launched an initiative that is a first of its kind in the cannabis world.