*Check out the live stream from today's proceedings below.
PREMIER Mike Baird praised Tamworth for its “dogged determination” and vowed NSW would “lead the world” on medical marijuana reform, at a landmark conference at TRECC yesterday.
Global 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 radically 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 my eyes,” Mr Baird said.
“I’ll never forget the look in his eyes ... when those eyes looked at me, it was very much saying, can you help? The Haslams 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.
“There is growing evidence of a benefit for children with seizures ... and relief from nausea and pain,” Mr Baird said.
“We won’t be able to do something for everyone overnight but if we do it properly, the benefits will help relieve suffering for thousands and thousands of people.
“We are on the cusp of something very special here.”
In her opening address, symposium host and journalist Helen Kapalos praised Tamworth, describing it as “a town that truly stands by its people; a big country town that’s all heart”.
Mrs Haslam then outlined her deeply personal journey to becoming the “pin-up girl” for medical marijuana.
“This campaign started because I wanted to protect my son and my family from being considered criminals,” Mrs Haslam said.
“My beautiful son was prepared to speak out when he recognised all was not right with the system.
“I have no desire to make recreational marijuana use the norm, I just want justice.”
She also took aim at the mainstream medical fraternity for opposing medical cannabis, saying the “Hippocratic oath had become the hypocritical oath”.
Harvard Medical School professor Lester Grinspoon, a seminal figure in the medical marijuana movement, addressed the crowd via video link, saying marijuana had been used as a medicine for 10,000 years.
Israeli cannabis campaigners Dr Ilya Reznik and Zach Klein were next to speak, followed by US advocates Justin Kander, Dr Robert Melamede and Steph Sherer.
The symposium will continue today.