A TAMWORTH family has landed a decisive blow in its fight to decriminalise medical marijuana after NSW Premier Mike Baird yesterday gave his strongest sign yet he would support a law change.
Tamworth cancer patient Dan Haslam and his parents Lou and Lucy held a one-hour meeting with Mr Baird in Sydney yesterday and emerged confident they had the Premier’s backing.
The news comes just weeks out from the expected tabling of a private member’s bill by Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson to allow terminally-ill patients to possess 15 grams or less of cannabis as medicine.
“Mr Baird was thoroughly on side ... he is the most natural and empathetic politician I have met,” Mrs Haslam said.
“We asked him directly how he felt about the bill and he said he went into politics to make a difference and, yes, he did support it.
“He said if it was his wife and child, he would want access to the best possible medicine.”
The Premier revealed the bill would likely be tabled in two parts: the first aimed at decriminalising the drug for the dying and second part dealing with the fraught issue of supply.
Dan Haslam, who is living with terminal bowel cancer, said he was “very happy” with the meeting.
The bill will not decriminalise the drug for those seeking relief from non-terminal conditions, such as chronic pain or children with intractable epilepsy.
Under the plan, terminally-ill patients would be given a special ID card exempting them from prosecution for possessing small quantities of marijuana.
In a statement to The Leader, Mr Baird said he was deeply moved by the meeting with the Haslams.
“During my meeting with Daniel Haslam I was struck by his determination and courage,” Mr Baird said.
“I am sympathetic to the views of the Haslam family and others who believe medical marijuana can be of great assistance to those affected by debilitating or life- threatening illnesses.
“Compassion remains my key focus in this debate, but any solution must address concerns in relation to supply and regulation.”
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall yesterday joined the chorus of political support for the bill.
“It’s time to show compassion and adopt a humanitarian approach to this important health issue,” Mr Marshall said.
“People who are dying should not have to also face the fear of prosecution for using a natural drug that relieves some of their pain and suffering, often times better than any legal drug can.”