WHAT could be the nation’s first medicinal cannabis farm was officially opened near Tamworth yesterday, nearly two years after the Haslam family embarked on a journey that sparked a conversation around Australia.
Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, NSW Deputy Premier Troy Grant and Tamworth Regional Council mayor Col Murray were on hand for the unveiling of the 47ha property DanEden, named in honour of the late Daniel Haslam, the man who became the face of the campaign to legalise the use of medicinal cannabis.
Dan lost his battle with cancer last year, but his family, led by mum Lucy, continued the fight to make the drug legally available for those in need, and is now determined to not only begin cultivation of medicinal cannabis, but to also establish a holistic treatment facility for patients. The exact location of the property remains under wraps for now.
“For some reason, I feel that we were chosen to make this difficult journey,” Mrs Haslam said.
“What started as a desire to help relieve Dan’s suffering soon be- came a chance to represent many thousands of sick Australians.
“In the last two years we’ve managed to garner support where previously there was none.
“We’ve been able to bring Australian political views up to date with current world views.”
Mrs Haslam said it would not only be the chance to create a new primary industry in Australia, but would also lift the profile of Tamworth along the way.
“We see this as an opportunity for the Tamworth region, which supported us so strongly,” she said.
Mrs Haslam said there would be an announcement in coming weeks on a partnership that will help facilitate their goals.
“Our partner has the capability to provide the necessary resources and skills to help us achieve our aims for Australia,” she said.
Mr Joyce commended the Haslams on harnessing their grief to do something positive.
He also praised the people of people of Tamworth and New England as “adroit” and “innovative” for seeing what was morally right in the decision and “putting a shoulder to the wheel to make it happen”.
Mr Grant joined the chorus of thanks given to the Haslams and said it was “a remarkable personal story that has so much potential for public good”.
It was “an issue that may not have been traditionally supported or embraced by the National Party [but] was embraced because it made sense”, he said.
“You guys have come so far in such a short space of time,” he said.
Cr Murray described Mrs Haslam as a gold medallist in political lobbying.
“If there was a gold medal for political activism and lobbying, that gold medal would be hanging around your neck,” he said.
“I don’t think, in my short time in politics, I’ve ever seen anything happen so quickly.”
However, Mr Joyce stopped short of putting a timeframe on the federal government finalising the medicinal cannabis legislation and said Health Minister Sussan Ley had been very proactive in her work in the area.
“I’m not going to start announcing for Sussan Ley her timeframe, but I can absolutely give a warrant that she has been working flat out,” he said.
“Take it as motivation – that, if we’re here, we’re not here to muck about, we’re here to make it happen.”