THE march to legalise medical marijuana has taken another crucial step after a group of federal MPs this week launched an audacious bid to introduce national laws on the issue.
MPs from across the political spectrum banded together on Thursday to form the Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy and Law Reform, with the chief aim of tabling a medical marijuana bill in federal parliament.
It comes just weeks after Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson announced he would table a private members bill in the NSW Parliament.
Meanwhile, Tamworth’s Haslam family, which has been the public face of the campaign, will be the centre of a fresh media barrage this weekend, appearing on Channel 7’s Sunday Night and Channel 9’s Weekend Today.
The Haslams’ petition to decriminalise cannabis for the dying yesterday reached a staggering 140,000 signatures, while a poll on last week’s Sunday Night program found 96 per cent of 2.8 million respondents supported medical marijuana.
Despite the extraordinary groundswell of support, none of the nation’s health ministers have backed the legalisation calls.
Lucy Haslam, who addressed Thursday’s meeting at Parliament House, said it was high time politicians listened to the people.
“You’ve got to have interest at the federal level because it’s silly if every state has different laws,” Mrs Haslam said.
“This issue needs to be above politics.
“I resent that in a country where we can provide heroin injecting rooms and needle exchanges, where our government collects taxes from cancer-
causing tobacco and the biggest killer of all, alcohol, we are forced into criminality because our son is unlucky enough to be one of the thousands who has, through no fault of his own, contracted a life- threatening disease.”
Senior police, the Australian Medical Association, NSW Cancer Council, NSW Nurses and Midwives Association and even some anti-drug crusaders have backed the campaign in recent weeks.
The Australian Drug Foundation is the latest to back the push, yesterday giving in-principle support to medical cannabis.
“As a compassionate society, there is no reason to prevent doctors prescribing medical cannabis to those people for whom other medication has not provided relief,” national policy manager Geoff Munro said.
“It’s time we introduced the therapeutic use of cannabis for people who lack other alternatives and who suffer badly.”