Medical marijuana symposium must deliver more than a trial
"MORE than a clinical trial" is what HEMP Embassy president Michael Balderstone hopes will come out of a medical marijuana symposium chaired by NSW Premier Mike Baird in Tamworth today.
A convoy of medical marijuana supporters left the Nimbin institution yesterday for the six-hour trip to Tamworth to show their support.
The event was arranged by Lucy Haslam, whose bowel cancer-stricken son Daniel has become the public face of medical marijuana by using cannabis to alleviate his chemotherapy symptoms.
Premier Baird has recently announced his support for the use of cannabis as a medical treatment, alongside Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
But Mr Baird's "timid" approach to legal reform has come under fire from Greens MP John Kaye, who has put his own bill before Parliament.
Mr Kaye said the clinical trial of the drug supported by Mr Baird would take "years to conduct and will be expensive", and would not help those currently seeking relief by using cannabis escape unfair prosecution.
"Without a drug company to sponsor it, there is little likelihood of any useful outcome," Mr Kaye said.
"Years will pass by before there is any progress towards a solution."
The Greens' bill proposes legal protection for the ill using cannabis, allowing use by more than just the terminally ill, plus letting users grow up to six plants.
It would also allow the State Government to "establish and operate facilities for growing, processing and supplying medicinal cannabis".
Mr Balderstone said the Greens bill was "dead right" and appealed for Mr Baird to go further.
"People who are sick, using a herb, and being judged a criminal is creating a lot of stress," Mr Balderstone said.
"Even worse, they're forced to buy their medicine, mostly hydroponic and grown by organised crime, from a black market.
"So people really need to be able to grow their own plants.
"And if you want to sell cannabis, let's license people.
"I just think he (Mr Baird), has probably got a lot of pressure from his political mates to just take a tiny step.
"But the times are moving fast.
"We need to be game."