FRANTIC backroom lobbying from a Tamworth MP could see marijuana used as a legal medicine for the terminally ill within months.
In a surprise development, Kevin Anderson yesterday admitted he was “quietly confident” his medical marijuana private member’s bill would be introduced to the NSW Parliament by mid-August.
It comes just 10 weeks after Tamworth’s Haslam family captured the attention of the nation by launching a campaign to make the drug legal for the dying.
A petition to support the Haslams’ push has now reached an extraordinary 175,000 signatures.
Mr Anderson said while there was still much work to be done, he was on track to table the bill at the start of the parliamentary spring session.
“I’m talking to colleagues, I’m working quickly, and it’s my hope it will be introduced by the middle of August,” Mr Anderson said.
“This is history in the making and I have a good feeling about it, because we’re staying focused on just the terminally ill aspect. We need to get this through and then we can look at expanding it to children with severe epilepsy and others.”
He revealed the bill would be “sponsored” in cabinet by Nationals leader Andrew Stoner, bolstering its chances of being carried.
Mr Anderson, who will lead a contingent of MPs on a study tour of Tasmania next week, said he would hold talks with New England MP Barnaby Joyce in a bid to change federal laws around medical marijuana.
Tasmanian company Tascan is leading the nation in clinical trials of the drug, but under federal law it is prohibited from exporting cannabis medicines to other states.
Tamworth’s Lucy Haslam, a former nurse who has spearheaded the campaign, said uniform national laws were critical.
“Otherwise it will just create a situation where people are forced to move interstate to access medicine,” Mrs Haslam said.
“It will end up like the US, where it’s available in some states but not others and people are too afraid to cross borders.”
She urged patients who could benefit from medical marijuana to keep sharing their stories.
“They need to tell their story to federal MPs and the federal health minister,” Mrs Haslam said.
“Even though it looks like this (law change) will happen, there are a lot of high-level politicians that are still really uninformed.”