Push for medical use of cannabis gains Premier's support

SUPPORT: Dr Graham Irvine, a sessional lecturer in the School of Law and Justice at SCU, has used his personal experience to base a thesis on medicinal cannabis.
SUPPORT: Dr Graham Irvine, a sessional lecturer in the School of Law and Justice at SCU, has used his personal experience to base a thesis on medicinal cannabis. Cathy Adams

A BILL launched to protect certified medical users of cannabis from prosecution under NSW law has garnered support from a university academic and the Premier.

If it passes through NSW parliament, the Drug Legislation Amendment Bill of 2014 will permit people with a terminal illness to apply, on the recommendation of their treating doctor to the NSW Department of Health, for a card that would exempt them and their carers from prosecution for possession of 15 grams or less of crude cannabis.

Southern Cross University adjunct fellow Dr Graham Irvine, the first person in Australia approved to use medicinal cannabis for medical purposes, said the bill was based on a model he suggested in his PhD thesis.

"I have personally come into contact with some really sad situations with people who are dying and the only thing that allows them some respite is the medicinal cannabis, or indeed smoking cannabis," he said.

Dr Irvine, a Parkinson's disease sufferer, said approved users of cannabis and their carers should be immune from prosecution.

"We are talking about little old ladies who might be in a nursing home and they have got no access to the normal ways people in society obtain their cannabis," he said.

Dr Irvine said some older people who try cannabis and find it beneficial would be prosecuted for obtaining the drug illegally, if they are physically able, otherwise their carers could face prosecution.

"This bill would allow us to separate the people who have a genuine medical need for cannabis from other users."

Greens MP John Kaye welcomed Thursday's supportive comments from Premier Mike Baird on the issue of the legalisation of the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

"The Greens don't care who drafts the legislation or introduces it, as long as it takes away the dreadful choice between breaking the law and suffering faced by too many cancer patients," he said.

Topics:  cannabis, editors picks, medicine

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