NSW closer to legalising medical marijuana September 20 2014


New South Wales (NSW) is one step closer to legalising medical marijuana after the state government committed to clinical trials.

It is a huge relief for seriously ill patients, who will be able to use cannabis without fear of being charged.

Dan Haslam's body is riddled with cancer, and regular bouts of chemotherapy leave him weak and nauseous. He has tried every prescription medication available, but nothing treats the pain like cannabis does.

"I don't lose weight, I don't spend days in hospital and it's changed my life," he says.

His mother, a former nurse, and his dad, an ex-drug squad detective, say they are forced to live like criminals to provide their son some comfort.

Cancer sufferer Lucy Haslam says there is something wrong when police are reluctant to enforce a law.

"The people aren't wrong – the law is wrong."

NSW Premier Mike Baird has given the go-ahead for clinical trials, the first step to legalising medical marijuana.

"Why not take a stance, to say to the rest of the country 'this matters'? It's time we did something about it."

The Haslams collected a petition with almost 200,000 signatures, including from the medical community.

"We've won the first step; it's been a long battle," says Ms Haslam.

"Having it in this framework we have access, controlled access, but also supervised access is critical," says the Australia Medical Association's Dr Saxon Smith.

Just last month Tony Bower was sentenced to 12 months' jail for cultivating and supplying marijuana. His cannabis elixir was used by 200 families to help their sick children.

A working group is being set up to work out how to distribute marijuana legally and safely to those who actually need it.

The state of Victoria is likely to follow suit and pass a similar trial next week.