Poll supercharges marijuana debate

TAMWORTH’S crusade to legalise marijuana for the dying has been supercharged after a prime time TV poll on Sunday showed 96 per cent support for the push.

Amid emotional pleas from the Haslam family, an extraordinary 96 per cent of the 2.8 million viewers responding answered “Yes” to the question “Should medical marijuana be legalised?”

The story, on Channel 7’s Sunday Night, also sparked more than 60,000 new signatures to be added to a petition calling on NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner to rethink laws around medical marijuana.

Titled The Conservative Cannabis Club, the report included moving footage of Tamworth 

24-year-old Dan Haslam discussing his terminal bowel cancer diagnosis and imploring the NSW government to decriminalise cannabis for the terminally ill.

Interspersed with home video of Dan as a child, it also included interviews with Tamworth police commander Clint Pheeney, local gym owner and cancer survivor Dwone “DJ” Jones, Mr Haslam’s wife and family and the family of an epileptic child who has made remarkable progress after using a cannabis “tincture”.

Dan’s mum Lucy Haslam said the story showed how the cascade of public support stood in contrast to the views of governments around Australia.

“It was really emotional to watch and so disappointing to see all the nation’s health ministers still oppose it,” Mrs Haslam said.

“To put their views in context with that figure of 96 per cent just shows how frighteningly out of touch our politicians are.

“They still can’t make the distinction between recreational and medical use, yet it seems everyone else can.”

The story chronicled the family’s medical journey from Dan’s diagnosis to today.

It showed footage of Dan undergoing the rigours of chemotherapy, a process he described as like “pumping poison into your heart”.

And it featured the determination of his stoic and courageous parents – Lou and Lucy – to allow their son to access an effective treatment to the crushing side-effects of that chemo.

Dan and Lucy Haslam were also interviewed about the issue yesterday morning on Channel 7’s Sunrise.

As the story continued to get national media coverage yesterday, Mrs Haslam urged the community to continue lobbying political leaders for change.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner said more clinical trials had to be conducted before she was a supporter of medical marijuana.

“I am advised there is a proposal seeking approval to extract the non-hallucinogenic component from cannabis grown in Tasmania with a view to clinical trials to prove its safety and effectiveness. I support this approach,” she said.

AT A GLANCE

Doing it for Dan - how you can help

n NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner:

Email: office@skinner.minister.nsw.gov.au

Write to: Jillian Skinner, Level 31 Governor 

Macquarie Tower, 1 Farrer Place, Sydney, NSW,     2000. Phone: 9228 5229

n NSW Premier Mike Baird

Email: Via form on www.premier.nsw.gov.au

Write to: Mike Baird, Level 40 Governor Macquarie Tower, 1 Farrer Place, Sydney, NSW, 2000

Phone: 9976 2773 (electorate office)

n Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson

Email: tamworth@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Write to: Kevin Anderson, 13 Fitzroy St, Tamworth, NSW, 2340 

Phone: 6766 1422

* Sign the petition at www.dansstory.com.au

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