TAMWORTH MP Kevin Anderson has rejected claims the state government is “going soft” on medical marijuana reform by calling for a repeat of clinical trials that have already been done overseas.
In the wake of Tuesday’s announcement the government would forge ahead with a medical marijuana policy, heavy hitters such as radio kingpin Alan Jones and Prime Minister Tony Abbott have questioned the need for trials.
Rather than adopt Mr Anderson’s private member’s bill on the issue, Premier Mike Baird announced he would use a clinical trial period to guide the government’s medical marijuana policy leading up to the March election.
On national TV yesterday morning, Jones branded the move “disappointing”.
A copy of an email from Mr Abbott to Jones, obtained by The Leader, reveals the Prime Minister agrees.
“I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis, just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates,” the PM wrote.
“My basic contention is that something that’s been found to be safe in a reliable
jurisdiction shouldn’t be needed to be tested here and clinical trials that have been done elsewhere shouldn’t have to be repeated here.”
Tamworth mum and medical marijuana campaigner Lucy Haslam claimed trials were a way for the government to appease the Australian Medical Association (AMA), which has steadfastly refused to back moves to legalise cannabis for the dying.
“It’s just to appease the AMA, to try and shut them up,” Mrs Haslam said.
“But I don’t want to be critical of Mike Baird; I believe he will be true to his word.”
Under the NSW government’s new approach, police powers to exempt terminally ill users from prosecution will be strengthened and a working group established to oversee clinical trials.
The NSW Greens have branded the plan a “timid and flawed tiny step forward” and are pushing ahead with their own private member’s bill.
Despite the fact hundreds of successful clinical trials have been performed overseas, Mr Anderson claimed trials under Australian conditions were a critical piece of the decriminalisation puzzle.
“We need to prove from an Australian perspective that this works,” Mr Anderson said.
“One plant is different from another and when you pick up a tablet and put it on your mouth, you need to know exactly what you’re getting.”
Thousands marched in Australian capital cities on Sunday to push for an end to marijuana prohibition.