Former cop adds supporting voice

A FORMER high-ranking police officer has had a shock conversion to the benefits of medical marijuana, adding more weight to a Tamworth family’s push to have the drug authorised for use by the terminally ill.

Meg McGowan, a former superintendent in the NSW Police Force, has been forced to radically alter her views after being diagnosed with breast cancer last year and turning to marijuana as a desperate last resort to treat the symptoms.

She claimed a mounting body of evidence suggested medical cannabis may even be able to cure some cancers.

“The evidence is compelling,” Ms McGowan said. 

“Cannabis, in some circumstances, kills some cancers.

“It also helps people cope with the side effects of chemotherapy and provides better palliative pain relief for some people than the alternatives.”

Her support marks another step in the Haslam family’s campaign to lobby the state government to allow trials of the drug for the dying.

An Upper House committee last year gave bipartisan support for the trials, but the government has so far resisted the push.

Ms McGowan rejected claims by the police force that allowing medical marijuana would increase the abuse of the drug recreationally.

“I do not dispute that cannabis is abused, but the evidence is clear that it provides some people a better and safer form of pain relief than commercially available drugs,” she said.

“Medically available pain killers are also the subject of widespread abuse, but we do not make them illegal on that basis.

“It seems unreasonable to deny terminally ill patients a safe form of medication because of the abuse by some people, when drugs that are far more dangerous are legally available in spite of abuse.

“The benefits of cannabis to critically ill people outweigh the risks associated with illegal use.”

She said terminally ill patients should not be burdened with the guilt of breaking the law just to receive the best possible treatment.

“Many people who would benefit from cannabis are not even prepared to try it while it remains illegal,” she said.  

“In some cases this means giving up chemotherapy early because of nausea.

“If cannabis is conclusively proven to cure some cancers then there are people dying right now that might have been saved.”

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