Hundreds gathered at the Nimbin town hall on Saturday calling for medical marijuana reform as the new NSW Labor leader Luke Foley said more action was needed.
Mr Foley said a more ambitious approach was needed than the government’s planned $9 million trial for medicinal cannabis that has the potential to treat children with severe epilepsy, terminally ill adults and those undergoing chemotherapy.
Under new guidelines, police will have the discretion not to charge terminally-ill cannabis users and carers who assist them for breaking drug laws.
Speaking in Sydney on Sunday, Mr Foley said changes to drug laws were needed.
‘The law should disappear from the statute books,’ Mr Foley told reporters in Strathfield.
‘I’d like to see us cross party lines here and change the law so that the terminally ill and their loved ones need never fear prosecution.
‘I want to … give people experiencing terrible pain and suffering some hope.’
Mr Foley said he wanted the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act changed ‘as a matter of urgency’ in the first sitting week of parliament after the March state election.
He said if a state trial on medicinal cannabis were to take place, ‘it should be far quicker than what’s envisaged in NSW’.
‘I think we can go forward without a trial, personally,’ Mr Foley added.
He said he had not yet talked to NSW Premier Mike Baird about the issue.
Overseas trials, especially in Israel, showed that for some terminally ill people ‘cannabinoid treatments are the only effective measure of pain relief’, Mr Foley said.
He pointed to a pharmaceutical product used to treat multiple sclerosis, saying it could possibly be used in NSW as part of a medicinal cannabis program.
‘There has to be more work done on the supply side,’ Mr Foley added.
The trial, announced by the Baird government in December, will first have to overcome logistical hurdles in importing medical cannabis from Europe or the US.
If permission is denied, the government has indicated it could grow its own cannabis crop.
Mr Baird has previously stressed that the drug remains illegal.