A TAMWORTH family’s crusade to legalise medical marijuana has won a powerful – and unlikely – supporter.
Tamworth deputy mayor and local Nationals powerbroker Russell Webb has broken party ranks and publically backed the Haslam family’s campaign to make cannabis legal for the terminally ill.
Mr Webb said after speaking to the Haslams, and watching his own brother-in-law succumb to cancer in recent weeks, he had no option but to reverse his position.
“The evidence is compelling, the evidence is indisputable,” Mr Webb said.
“Once I started looking at that evidence, I could not believe it.
“The benefits in relieving nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemo is impossible to ignore.
“Where traditional forms of medication aren’t working for these people at the end of life, then why aren’t we looking at an option that does work?”
Mr Webb and local MLC Trevor Khan are the only two conservative politicians in the region to publically support the decriminalisation of the drug for the dying.
State MPs Kevin Humphries, Kevin Anderson and federal MP Barnaby Joyce have all resisted calls to back the proposal.
Their opposition comes despite a state Upper House inquiry last year unanimously recommending the drug be allowed for use by the terminally ill and moves by the Carr government in 2003 to allow a four-year trial of its medical use.
Mr Webb, an executive member of the local Nationals Electoral Council, said his support came after much soul searching.
“Cannabis is an illicit drug and it’s a scourge on our society,” he said.
“We should do whatever we can to limit its use recreationally.
“But that stigma around it has blinded our leaders and this is a completely different set of circumstances.
“If we can build a legislative framework around it as we have other restricted substances like morphine and oxycontin, there’s no reason why it can’t be controlled and managed.
“There are dying people who are clutching and searching for something in their hour of need and we cannot abandon those people.”
He vowed to lobby conservative leaders, including Mr Joyce, to support the proposal.
Lucy and Lou Haslam, whose 24-year-old son Dan has used cannabis to escape the crushing effects of chemotherapy, are spearheading the campaign.