SYDNEY radio titan Alan Jones will hold urgent talks with NSW premier Mike Baird in a dramatic new development in the push to legalise medical marijuana for the dying.
Jones, one of the state’s most powerful media figures, interviewed Tamworth mother and son Lucy and Dan Haslam yesterday and vowed to champion their cause “at the highest levels”.
Speaking to The Leader following the interview, a charged-up Jones said it was “absurd” the Haslams were being forced to buy marijuana illegally to give their son relief.
“It’s just common sense; we’re all so caught up in old theories and prejudices about drugs,” Jones said.
“These aren’t people on a drug-taking rampage, they’re a good family in a desperate situation.
“The government needs to hear four simple words: Give Daniel a chance.”
Jones’s foray into the debate comes as Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson prepares to lodge a private member’s bill urging Parliament to decriminalise the drug for the terminally ill under strict medical supervision.
It marks a high point in an extraordinary two-month campaign from the family which has attracted national media attention, 30,000 petition signatures and almost universal support from local leaders.
One of the nation’s highest-rating current affair programs, Sunday Night, was in Tamworth this week to film a feature story with the Haslams.
Jones said he would speak to the premier in the coming days and urge him to consider an immediate exemption from prosecution for Mr Haslam.
“An exemption on medical grounds ought to be granted today,” Jones said.
“We give exemptions all the time when there is a compelling compassionate case.
“If people in Macquarie St can’t get their heads around that, rather than wait for a debate to be had in the Parliament, then there’s something wrong.”
Jones, who was embroiled in controversy this week after a fiery radio interview with federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, said Mr Baird was “a father and a decent man” and was hoping he would grant the exemption.
“There’s too much bureaucracy involved,” Jones said.
“If a community like Tamworth is prepared to get behind the Haslams, then the government should too.
“Tamworth people don’t want their town awash with drugs, they just see a family in desperate need.”
Mrs Haslam said the family was overwhelmed by the support of Jones.
“We are so grateful to him for adding so much strength to our fight,” she said.
“He is the epitome of common sense with a good dash of compassion.
“That is what we have needed.”