Doing It For Dan: debate winning over toughest anti-drug crusaders

THE state government’s hardline stance on medical marijuana is under fresh attack as the avalanche of support for the Haslam family’s campaign builds.

Former Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Palmer and former NSW premier Bob Carr are the latest to back the campaign, joining anti-drug 

crusaders, past and current senior police, health experts, all nine Tamworth councillors and even some of the state government’s own MPs. Meanwhile, a poll of almost 2400 readers in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph has revealed 

94 per cent of respondents want cannabis legalised for medical purposes, an almost identical result to a Northern Daily Leader poll last month (93.8 per cent support).

It comes as NSW Greens MP John Kaye prepares to introduce a bill this afternoon into parliament calling on the government to implement the findings of last year’s Upper House inquiry into medical marijuana, which unanimously supported decriminalising the drug for the terminally ill.

“It is time for Health Minister Jillian Skinner to think again ... she is becoming increasingly isolated in her position,” Mr Kaye said.

“Respected current and former police have made their position clear. The terminally ill should be allowed to possess small quantities of crude cannabis to relieve their pain and suffering without the fear of criminal prosecution.

“Cancer patients like Dan Haslam are forced to make an appalling choice between unbearable suffering and breaking the law.”

Under the proposal, only the terminally ill would be able to apply for a special “medical marijuana licence”, which would be issued by the Department of Health and closely monitored by health officials.

Tamworth mum Lucy Haslam, whose son Dan has been the public face of the campaign, said she was stunned by the public support.

“This is the conversation that Australia had to have,” Mrs Haslam said. 

“Just the fact a trickle has turned into an avalanche of support should be a clear indication to our leaders that decisions such as this should be left to people who are living and working with disease and suffering, not politicians who have no expertise in the area.”

Despite the groundswell of support, Mrs Skinner told The Leader yesterday she remained staunchly opposed to medical marijuana.

“In line with the views of the majority of pain and palliative care specialists, the NSW government does not support the use of unregulated crude cannabis products for medical purposes as the quality and safety of these products cannot be guaranteed,” Mrs Skinner said.

She said while the government supported the use of prescription cannabis approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, funding for more research into it was provided by the federal government.

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