Show of force: Tamworth's top cop, mayor back medical marijuana

POWERFUL ALLIES: Oxley local area commander Clint Pheeney, left, and Tamworth mayor Col Murray have backed a local family’s campaign to have cannabis decriminalised for the terminally ill. Photo: Geoff O’Neill 090514GOD02

POWERFUL ALLIES: Oxley local area commander Clint Pheeney, left, and Tamworth mayor Col Murray have backed a local family’s campaign to have cannabis decriminalised for the terminally ill. Photo: Geoff O’Neill 090514GOD02

THE extraordinary cascade of support in Tamworth for medical marijuana continues, with the city’s mayor and top cop rallying behind the cause.

Tamworth mayor Col Murray and Oxley local area commander Clint Pheeney yesterday backed the Haslam family’s political campaign to decriminalise the drug for the terminally ill.

They join a host of other local leaders and medical experts in publicly lobbying the state government to change the laws governing medical marijuana.

Superintendent Pheeney, who has been with NSW Police for 39 years, said the case put forward by the Haslams was “overwhelmingly compelling”.

“I have vigorously pursued drug suppliers for many years and will continue to do so,” he said. 

“But this is not about loosening the laws; this is about us as a community showing compassion and understanding to people who are suffering terminal illnesses.

“Many suffer unbearable pain that current ‘legal’ drugs are unable to provide relief for.

“I would ask everyone to ask themselves this question: if you or your loved one was suffering severe pain and other chronic symptoms that could be alleviated by the use of a drug such as cannabis, would you perform a criminal act and use it or obtain it for your loved one? 

“I dare to say that most would say yes.”

He said changes to the current legislation, as recommended unanimously by a NSW upper house standing committee last year, with a “rigorous governance framework” should be considered.

Cr Murray backed Superintendent Pheeney’s comments, saying his view had changed in recent weeks.

“I’ve given this a lot of thought and done a lot of research since the debate started and I’ve changed my view to become a supporter (of medical marijuana),” Cr Murray said.

“I’m quite happy to stand beside Clint in public and support his words.

“There’s irrefutable medical evidence that there’s cause to consider this form of treatment.”

But Cr Murray, a staunch opponent of recreational drugs, said medical marijuana would have to be strictly policed.

“I have absolutely zero tolerance for marijuana as a recreational drug; it’s a scourge on our society,” he said.

Local businesswoman Lucy Haslam, whose 24-year-old son Daniel has terminal bowel cancer and found relief from cannabis, said she was overwhelmed by the support.

“It’s great to have the support of someone like Col, and for a senior police officer to publicly make the distinction between medical and recreational cannabis is amazing,” Mrs Haslam said.

A petition calling on the state government to legislate for medical marijuana now has almost 27,000 signatures.

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