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Call for stay on prosecution of medical-cannabis users

Medical cannabis tincture.

Medical cannabis tincture.

Luis Feliu

North coast cannabis law-reform campaigners have called for an amnesty on prosecution of people using medicinal cannabis, as the first trials of its use are soon to begin in NSW.

The call follows the NSW government’s announcement yesterday that its long-awaited trial on the medical use of the drug will be carried out a Newcastle hospital early next year.

Nimbin’s Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Embassy says around 100,000 Australians are currently using medical cannabis and they need to be given a legal stay of prosecution or amnesty while the trials are being conducted.

Premier Mike Baird announced the first three trials into medicinal cannabis will be carried out at Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital and involve around 30 adults to see if the drug can alleviate symptoms and pain for terminally ill patients and chronic disease sufferers.

The trial results are expected by the end of next year and will evaluate two types of cannabis products: vaporised leaf cannabis and a synthetic, pharmaceutical one.

HEMP Embassy president Michael Balderstone said politicians were ‘way behind public opinion’ on the issue as thousands of people were using it now.

Mr Balderstone said ‘the horse had well and truly bolted’ on medical cannabis and law-enforcement resources would be better used if they focused on the much more dangerous drug ice instead.

‘But I believe drug use in general is really a health issue,’ he said.

‘Who doesn’t agree these days that drug use is a health issue? It’s just deciding how we deal with it and clearly the police, courts and jails way is failing badly.
‘The Portugal model is a win win win for everybody but if they cant swallow that, let’s start with medical cannabis now and have an amnesty on personal use, and growing a few plants should be included.
‘Everybody agrees alcohol remains the biggest drama and I notice Splendour in the Grass festival’s main sponsors are all booze companies which is a confusing message, no?
‘The current way we are waging the war on drugs has cannabis users the easiest bust by far and it’s actually encouraging people to use pills and powders that are far harder to detect on your person or in your blood.
‘Twenty per cent of Australians have chronic pain and one in six of them are using medical cannabis, I heard on PM the other evening, thats 800,000 people! Not sure where they get their figures from,’ Mr Balderstone said.
Mr Baird told media the trials would prevent the current situation whereby patients and carers were ‘playing pharmacist’.

The announcement also comes as a committee of federal politicians made up of Coalition, Labor and cross-bench senators appears set to endorse legislation to legalise medical marijuana.

Spearheaded by Greens leader Richard Di Natale, the Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill would make the federal government responsible for overseeing the production, distribution and use of the drug and set up a medical marijuana regulator.

Medical cannabis is currently available in dozens of jurisdictions around the world and more countries are legalising it, as well decriminalising recreational use of the drug.

In the US alone, almost half the states have legalised medical cannabis or in the process of doing so.

And just last week, the legalisation movement gained momentum in Europe with support from hundreds of lawmakers in Italy for a proposal that would largely decriminalise production, distribution, sale and consumption of marijuana throughout the nation.

Cannabis law-reform campaigners say prohibition is proving unnecessary and a huge waste of taxpayer money.

Information on medical cannabis is available at www.medicalmarijuana.com.au.


2 responses to “Call for stay on prosecution of medical-cannabis users”

  1. Paul Pot says:

    24 US states have medical cannabis, 5 of them have legalized.
    No sign of disaster in fact crime is down, OD’s are down, road fatalities down, teen drug use down, alcohol related violence down.
    It’s time to own up to it, prohibition has always been the problem.
    End the dangerous, criminal drug war.

  2. Linda says:

    ….”Mr Baird said the trials would position NSW as a world-leader in research into cannabis and terminal illness as well as help alleviate suffering….” Seriously? Has no one told him the research has already been done?? No prize for last place Mr Baird.

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