Baird: NSW will 'lead the nation and world' on medical marijuana reform

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PREMIER Mike Baird praised Tamworth for its "dogged determination" and vowed NSW will lead the world on medical marijuana reform at a landmark conference at TRECC yesterday.

World-leading medical experts, senior police, politicians and medical marijuana users from around Australia were on hand for the opening day of the Inaugural Australian Medical Cannabis Symposium.

Mr Baird said the plight of Tamworth terminal cancer patient Dan Haslam and the courage of his family had dramatically altered his view on the issue.

"The Haslam family has inspired me and Dan's story, when I first heard it, couldn't help but bring tears to me eyes," Mr Baird said.

"They represent a lot of families across the state.

"Because of them, the government has finally taken a position where we want to lead the nation and the world."

He rejected accusations the government was moving too slowly on cannabis reform, saying it was critical "thorough research" was undertaken.

For the first time, he also raised the spectre of a medical marijuana policy being extended to children with intractable epilepsy and chronic pain sufferers.

EARLIER: TAMWORTH’S fight to legalise medical marijuana will take a historic step forward on Friday at the opening of the Inaugural Australian Medical Cannabis Symposium at TRECC.

NSW Premier Mike Baird will make a flying visit to the city to launch the landmark conference on medical marijuana.

World-leading doctors, legislators, media and medical cannabis users will be on hand for the event, which runs Friday and Saturday.

It comes as the NSW government inches closer to medical marijuana reforms, with a working group set to announce details of a clinical trial in the coming weeks.

Local mum Lucy Haslam, who has organised the event and triggered a national debate on the alternative medicine, said Tamworth was helping rewrite history.

“This is a global event that’s been launched from a conservative area,” Mrs Haslam said.

“Residents here have been able to make the distinction between recreational and medical marijuana.

“If a conservative area like ours can do it, then surely the rest of the country can.”

About 200 people are expected for the symposium, which will be live streamed on The Northern Daily Leader’s website and at www.unitedincompassion.com.au

Guest speaker Justin Kander, the US-based founder of cannabisextractreport.com said the American experience should act as a template for Australia. In the US, 23 states have legalised medical cannabis and 85 per cent of residents  support the use of the drug as medicine.

“This event offers an unprecedented opportunity to inform your politicians and media about the issue,” Mr Kander said. “The message is that cannabis extracts need to be made available, especially to cancer patients. 

“I’ve seen too many patients go from terminal into remission just by using cannabinoids not to believe in it.”

He said he had heard about the story of Tamworth’s Dan Haslam back in June and was “honoured” to speak at the event.

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