Joyce fades to grey on medical pot

Barnaby Joyce
Barnaby Joyce

FROM black and white to shades of grey – Barnaby Joyce has had a mind-altering change on the issue of medical marijuana.

The New England MP yesterday came face-to-face for the first time with Tamworth man Dan Haslam, who has terminal bowel cancer and uses the drug to deal with the crippling symptoms associated with chemotherapy.

Along with parents Lou and Lucy Haslam, Daniel is spearheading a national campaign to have marijuana decriminalised for the terminally ill.

When asked for his views on medical marijuana a month ago, Mr Joyce told The Leader: “You have to be black and white with these things; you either support the legalisation of cannabis or you don’t.”

But after meeting with the Haslams yesterday, Mr Joyce’s position had become decidedly grey.

“I can say I’m absolutely moved by the plight of the Haslams and completely understand; you’re not human if you’re not moved,” Mr Joyce said.

“Some people have genuine desire and justified desire to get medical use of the drug approved to alleviate symptoms ... of cancer.

“But unfortunately you get other people who use it as an opening to say we should legalise cannabis for everyone and I know this is not what the Haslams want.

“For my part, I understand what they need is the strict controlled medical use (of cannabis).  If there’s a capacity to have medical use of cannabis and it’s properly controlled ... then it’s worthy of consideration.”

Mr Joyce is liaising with local medical professionals to get a better understanding of the drug’s therapeutic benefits.

His comments come as NSW Greens MLC John Kaye prepares to table a bill in Parliament on Tuesday, urging it to adopt the findings of a 2013 upper house inquiry that unanimously recommended medical marijuana be decriminalised for the terminally ill.

Mrs Haslam said she was pleased to be able to show the human face of the issue to Mr Joyce.

“It was a really positive meeting and we couldn’t be happier. We understand his reservations and realise he has to look into it further, but it’s a great first step,” she said.

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