A film exploring the challenges Australians face in trying to access medical marijuana is set to have its world premiere at a major medicinal cannabis symposium in Tweed Heads in March.
The film High as Mike follows the journey of a sound technician suffering from multiple brain tumours as he cycles around the country speaking to those who have benefited from medicinal cannabis and those who helped them do so.
Travelling from Tamworth to Townsville and numerous places in between, Mike speaks to patients and politicians, a former Federal Police Commissioner, a neurosurgeon and a woman who is facing 18 years jail for providing medicinal cannabis.
‘It’s a beautiful film that highlights the real life experiences of people who need these medicines,’ symposium organiser Lucy Haslam said.
The film will be one of the highlights at the 2019 Medicinal Cannabis Symposium, a three-day conference being held at the Twin Towers resort in Tweed Heads from March 22-25.
Organised by the not-for-profit organisation United in Compassion (UIC), the symposium will feature Australia’s first medicinal cannabis course for medical practitioners, a trade expo featuring the latest medicinal cannabis products, the film premiere, and a gala dinner.
‘We want to send a message that the system needs to change,’ said Ms Haslam, the co-founder of United in Compassion.
‘At the moment we have a situation where patients are being criminalised for wanting to be well.
‘That has to change and we can send a really strong message to those in power ahead of the next election by having a lot of people at the symposium.’
Ms Haslam said UIC had chosen the Northern Rivers as the location of the 2019 symposium (the fourth such event since 2014) because a large number of people in the region used medicinal cannabis.
‘There is a very good black market supply chain in this part of the country, which is great for the patients who need the medication,’ she said.
‘But ultimately we don’t want patients having to access the black market – it’s not where people should have to go for their medicine.’
Under the current legislative regime in NSW and Australia, all but a handful of those needing medicinal cannabis are prevented from obtaining it legally, either because they are deemed ‘ineligible’ or because the cost is too high.
The symposium is seeking to change those laws by raising awareness about the harm they are doing and exposing culture which underpins them.
‘People need to come so they can understand why cannabis has been so vilified,’ Ms Haslam said.
‘Once you understand the history around prohibition you understand why we’re in the position we’re in now.
‘When you’re getting calls from doctors police – as I do – saying “this patient is really in a bad way, do you know where they can get some medicinal cannabis,” you know that policy I failing and that it needs to change.’
For more information about the 2019 Medicinal Cannabis Symposium go to https://unitedincompassion.com.au/2019-symposium/