A small step to national rights

ANOTHER domino has fallen in Tamworth’s push to legalise medical marijuana, with the Victorian Opposition the latest to support the move.

Victorian Opposition leader Daniel Andrews, tipped as hot favourite to be premier after November’s state poll, has vowed to legalise cannabis oil for the treatment of conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, glaucoma and Parkinson’s disease, if elected.

It marks another decisive blow for the latest campaign to legalise the drug for the dying, led by Tamworth family the Haslams.

Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson is poised to lodge a private member’s bill in the NSW Parliament in the coming weeks, calling for the government to allow the terminally-ill to carry less than 15g of marijuana for medical purposes.

Tamworth medical marijuana advocate Lucy Haslam said it was critical laws be made uniform nationwide.

“The Victorian Opposition’s support is great, but it needs to be legalised nationwide,” Mrs Haslam said.

“People shouldn’t have to move states just to access adequate medical treatment.”

A campaign fighting fund has already raised $50,000 while a petition to the NSW Parliament has attracted close to 200,000 signatures.

At a federal level, a multi-party group of MPs – including northern Victorian Liberal MP Sharman Stone and Queensland MP Warren Entsch – are working on a bill to allow cannabis oil as a medical treatment for epilepsy sufferers, cancer patients and other life-threatening illnesses.

Mr Anderson said his draft bill was “99.9 per cent complete” and he was expecting to table it by the first week of the spring parliamentary session, which starts on September 9.

“I’ve got a good feeling about it and there seems to be a generally broad acceptance among the parliamentarians I’ve spoken to,” Mr Anderson said.

He said the issue of how to grow and supply the drugs to patients remained “a small stumbling block”.

Local Nationals MLC Trevor Khan said the Victorian Opposition’s decision to support a medical marijuana policy was significant.

“It’s very welcome and shows governments around Australia are treating the issue seriously,” Mr Khan said.

“This is not a wild election promise – they are looking at it in terms of a very defined group.”

Earlier this month, Norfolk Island’s health minister Robin Adams gave a green light to a Tasmanian company Tascann to grow a trial cannabis crop for a local trial of medical marijuana.

Last week, the Commonwealth stepped in to overturn the decision, with the island’s administrator, former Liberal MP Gary Hardgrave revoking the local licence to grow the crop.

Tascann may challenge the decision with the backing of the Norfolk Island community.

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