THE NSW Cancer Council has joined the fight to decriminalise medical marijuana, urging the state government to give it the green light “in limited circumstances”.
The organisation, which is staunchly anti-smoking, is so convinced of the medical benefits of cannabis it has made a surprise departure from its usual position.
“We recognise the medicinal benefits in relieving nausea, pain relief and as an appetite stimulant,” NSW Cancer Council manager of policy and advocacy Anita Tang said.
“But we only support it under medical supervision and as a last resort when nothing else has helped.
“If those conditions are met, we support limited exemptions of criminal prosecution.”
She said the council was hopeful in the longer term, pharmaceutical products, such as sprays, could be approved.
And while the council shared NSW health minister Jillian Skinner’s concerns about the dangers of smoking, Ms Tang said it was hardly a concern in the end stages of cancer.
“We are concerned about smoking but for people in the advanced stages of cancer, you’re looking at what can help short-term,” she said.
Meanwhile, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson, who last week signalled his intention to lodge a private member’s bill on the issue, on Tuesday met with Mrs Skinner and attorney-general Brad Hazzard on the issue.
“If we’re going to be able to change the law, they are a couple of key people,” Mr Anderson said.
“Brad (Hazzard) raised a couple of concerns about the supply and manufacture (of medical marijuana) from the farmgate to the pharmacy.
“And Jillian (Skinner) was keen for me to look further into synthetic cannabis.
“But they were good discussions and I’m confident there’s a lot of support for me to push ahead with what I’m doing.”
Mr Anderson said he was resisting calls from the pro-medical marijuana lobby to broaden the proposed laws even further.
“I’m staying focused on the palliative care side; I’m not interested in broadening the horizon to chronic pain and other illnesses,” he said.