The NSW Greens will tomorrow (Wednesday) introduce its bill for legalising medical marijuana proposing the government grow its own supply so children with incurable epilepsy can be treated.
But Nimbin Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone told Echonetdaily that the proposed bill did not go far enough and would do nothing to stop the black market trade.
Mr Balderstone also said that continued demonisation of cannabis was leading people to opt for harder drugs such as ice, which was not as easily detected.
‘The more you hassle people using weed the more the people turn to powders and pills and other chemicals,’ he said.
MLC John Kaye said the bill would do away with a clinical trial which he said would serve no purpose and proposed a better model.
Dr Kaye told Fairfax Media that premier Mike Baird was stuck on the issue of supply of medical marijuana, being ‘caught between his own humanitarian instincts and the innate conservatism of his party’.
The state government is currently considering expert advice on conducting a clinical trial which would precede any legalisation.
But Dr Kaye says ‘no purpose is served by a clinical trial, cannabis has been around for thousands of years’.
On that point, Mr Balderstone agreed.
‘Even Tony Abbott (in a letter to radio host Alan Jones) said there was no need for a trial,’ Mr Balderstone said.
‘We’re sick of being treated like criminals for a herb. It’s a health issue.’
Mr Balderstone said a better model would be to allow people to grow their own cannabis, and to issue licences to existing growers as part of an amnesty on the war on drugs.
‘People would pay a fortune to get a licence and up here we have four decades of experience in breeding and growing various strains,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Fairfax Media report said other key aspects of the Greens’ plan include:
* Specifically legalising patient’s use of marijuana under state law (the premier prefers allowing police to decline whether to prosecute);
* Legalising marijuana as a palliative treatment for children with severe and intractable epilepsy, if they have approval from three doctors, including a specialist, and are supervised by one;
* Allowing marijuana treatments for HIV, ‘neuropathic’ pain and any condition approved by a doctor (the premier prefers its use only for the terminally ill).
The Greens, according to the report, would also have a low-THC strain of marijuana grown by public sector agencies that could also licence patients to grow up to six mature plants in their own homes.
Mr Balderstone said medicinal cannabis campaigner Tony Bower was ropable at the notion that the government would be allowed to grow cannabis while existing suppliers would be excluded.
NSW Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Dr Saxon Smith told Fairfax Media the state government’s working group developing guidelines for a clinical trial has considered use of marijuana for a range of treatments including childhood epilepsy.
But Dr Smith said the AMA opposes using marijuana, particularly for children, without a clinical trial first.
Cabinet will soon decide whether to adopt its recommendations.
Meanwhile, a medical cannabis forum will be held in Tamworth this weekend.
Organised by Lucy Haslam, whose son Dan is suffering from cancer, the forum is expected to attract a while variety of participants.
A contingent from the Nimbin Hemp Embassy will be attending.