TAMWORTH’S Haslam family rode an emotional roller-coaster yesterday as they marked the first anniversary of the death of their beloved Dan, while at the same time welcoming the passing of the medicinal cannabis laws for which he’d been such a vocal advocate.
“It’s bittersweet,” Dan’s mum Lucy told The Leader yesterday afternoon after watching on television the legislation pass through the Senate, allowing for the cultivation of the drug in Australia.
Dan, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer at just 20, spoke out about the benefits of the drug for the debilitating after-effects of chemotherapy and the need for patients with a variety of medical conditions to be able to access it without breaking the law.
Mrs Haslam, with her son, advocated tirelessly for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis and became the public face of the campaign, and yesterday senators paid tribute to their efforts.
“Lucy, this wouldn’t have happened without your contribution,” Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale told Parliament.
“Your family’s grief, your family’s pain and suffering, has not been in vain.”
The legislation was introduced to the Senate on Tuesday, and while the Haslams had hoped it may be passed yesterday, Labor was insisting it be sent to committee.
Not an unusual request, but one that would have delayed a vote, despite all sides agreeing on the importance of the legislation.
It prompted Mrs Haslam to make some calls to senior Labor figures on Tuesday night requesting they reconsider this position, and it’s believed pressure came from many other quarters, too.
“The indication was that they would still proceed (with the committee request) but this morning we got word they’d changed their minds,” she said yesterday.
Watching the legislation pass, Mrs Haslam said it was exciting, but given all that had happened, and the significance of the day, it was difficult as well.
“I’m an emotional wreck,” she said, conceding there were many tears, particularly during the words of Senator Di Natale, who she credits with being one of the driving political forces behind yesterday’s success.
“It looked like it wasn’t going to happen and then it did – everything just fell into place.”
For the Haslams, it will always be “Dan’s Law”, and yesterday there were moves in Canberra to try and have that name adopted.
But, whatever the outcome, the momentum is there, with Health Minister Sussan Ley announcing an independent advisory committee would now be established to oversee the next stage of the rollout of a national regulator.
Mrs Haslam believes that the ramifications of yesterday’s decision could be felt internationally.
“It’s good to have something positive come out of a negative, and I really feel this will have implications around the world, in places like the UK where they’ll now be saying, ‘well, Australia’s done it’,” she said.
“I don’t think we can even begin to understand how wide it will reach.”