The New South Wales Government has announced a clinical trial of the medical use of marijuana, making its legal use one step closer in the state. A working group has been formed to set up the trial, which will look at ways to address issues of supply and distribution, and report back by the end of the year.
The Government is also moving to formalise police guidelines so that people who possess small amounts of cannabis will not be charged if their name is on a register of terminally ill patients.
NSW Premier Mike Baird has told Parliament he was touched by the plight of terminally ill Tamworth man Daniel Haslam.
"Why not take a stance to say to the rest of the country, this matters. It's time we did something about it," he said.
"So I say at the same time, we want to give the terminally ill and those around them, their carers, their family, greater peace of mind. We also want to ensure that carers aren't forced to watch their loved ones suffer when their pain can be alleviated."
Mr Haslam's mother Lucy has been leading a campaign to have medicinal cannabis legalised for her son.
Daniel Haslam was diagnosed with bowel cancer and the 24-year-old found cannabis offered some relief to the harsh effects of chemotherapy.
Mrs Haslam said she was elated when the Premier told her of the Government's decision this morning.
"I think I gave him a big hug and a kiss. He's a very kind, caring man, you know he's a dad," she said.
"I think he probably knows as any parent the horrible feeling of watching your child suffer and feeling powerless. He can empathise with that I think."
Mr Baird said NSW is leading the way on an issue that should now be on the national agenda.
"That's my call to this house today and every stakeholder that wants to play, every member that wants to play a role, every party that wants to play a role, it's time that we got this done," he said.
"The country has waited too long, this state has waited too long."
In the interim, the Government is also formalising police guidelines to ensure registered terminally ill patients will not be charged for possessing small amounts of cannabis.
Nationals MP Kevin Anderson had been drafting a private members bill to legalise medical marijuana.
He said he now hopes the State Government will be able to take a firm plan on the issue to the next state election.
"I would sincerely hope so. I think that here we are six months on from when we first started to talk about this and we now have a rock solid government position," he said.
"There are no other jurisdictions across Australia that are this far advanced in terms of doing what this government is doing."
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Story Source: ABC Online Services