FROM the heart of one family in Tamworth, the human story behind the medical marijuana debate has gained world-wide attention.
International news channel Al Jazeera, based in Doha, Qatar, was in town on Monday to speak with the Haslam family about their long-fought campaign to legalise marijuana for medical purposes.
Sydney correspondent Andrew Thomas said the circumstances of Dan Haslam’s terminal bowel cancer – combined with the campaigning of his mother Lucy and his father Lou’s previous police role heading up Tamworth’s drug squad – made their story one he wanted to share with the world. “It’s a story that has momentum,” Mr Thomas said.
He was alerted to the Haslam’s story after the NSW government took the historic step to announce clinical trials for medical cannabis.
“It seemed to me the most interesting innovation in Australian politics at the moment,” he said.
“It came down to this family.”
The Haslams have been the epicentre of the medical cannabis media storm, with various media – including Channel 7’s Sunday Night – featuring their story.
Mrs Haslam said the international attention was about the “awakening in Australia” of the medical possibilities of cannabis.
“It’s not everyday you get a call from Al Jazeera,” Mrs Haslam said.
Mr Thomas said Al Jazeera had strong international coverage of the Middle East, ISIS and Ebola, but it was important to cover stories in regional Australia and put “people at the heart of every story”.
In terms of cancer treatment, Mr Thomas said the Haslams’ journey was “the most compelling thing out there”.
“We can cover abstract innovations, but if it doesn’t affect real people then it’s a total waste of time,” he said.
“We’re at a worldwide tipping point – more and more countries are jumping on the bandwagon.
“This is Australia joining those other countries in the world where medical marijuana has a place in treating cancer.”
He said the story would be aired ahead of the World Cancer Conference, held in Melbourne from December 3-6 this year.