The Greens have warmly welcomed supportive comments from NSW premier Mike Baird on the issue of the legalisation of the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
The premier has given the green light for Tamworth Nationals MP Kevin Anderson to work on a private members bill to respond to ‘overwhelming community support’ for the compassionate use of medicinal cannabis.
Greens NSW MP John Kaye said he would gladly delay moving his bill, announced earlier this week, to allow Mr Anderson time to develop and proceed with his legislation.
Dr Kaye said, ‘Mr Anderson has indicated that the premier is now showing some sympathy for the plight of patients with terminal illness and their carers.
‘Although we are not there yet, it is a big step forward from where we were a month ago.
‘Today’s announcement is a testament to the courage and hard work of medicinal cannabis advocates and patients like Daniel Haslam and his mother Lucy.
‘They have turned the NSW government around.
‘The Greens don’t care who drafts the legislation or introduces it, as long as it takes away the dreadful choice between breaking the law and suffering faced by too many cancer patients.
‘We will hold off on introducing our bill into parliament while Mr Anderson works up his bill.
‘This issue is too important to play politics. Reaching a positive outcome for patients experiencing appalling pain and suffering should be the focus of all politicians.
‘My bill is far from perfect and largely dodges the complex issue of supply.
‘At the time of the Upper House Inquiry any steps towards regulated supply or official dispensing were seen as too challenging for the O’Farrell government.
‘It is, of course, possible to solve this. The Netherlands runs a dispensary model.
‘Even in Australia, opium, a far more potent drug, is grown under controlled circumstances and processed into pharmaceuticals like codeine.
‘I am happy to work with Mr Anderson to help him develop a bill that satisfies the Premier and the other key players,’ said Dr Kaye.
For his part Mr Anderson said, ‘The premier was sympathetic and listened intently while I explained the issue to him and the circumstances surrounding my decision to try and change the laws.
‘I told him about the Haslam family from Tamworth and the heartbreaking circumstances facing 24-year-old Dan Haslam who has terminal cancer and his use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
‘However the premier joined with me in expressing grave concerns about the supply and the prescription of cannabis and the challenge in addressing those issues. It would need to be through a tightly controlled and regulated process.
‘While the NSW Upper House inquiry supported the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, it did not address the supply.
‘The work now begins on doing the research to solve those issues. It will be critical to get this bill right, and I will be working closely with the chair of the inquiry the Sarah Mitchell and Trevor Khan to find those solutions.
‘I strongly oppose the use of recreational drugs at every level and will continue to do so but through the Haslam family and my own research, I have a greater understanding of how cannabis can be used to alleviate the severe and distressing symptoms suffered by those who are dying and the need to provide comfort and relief when they need it most.
‘I thank the Haslam family and the community for raising this issue with me and their determined push to help Daniel.’
See more about Dan Haslam at www.dansstory.com.au