IN SUPPORT: Dr Graham Irvine is a Parkinson’s disease sufferer who approves of the use of medical marijuana. He is pictured at Southern Cross University, Lismore.
IN SUPPORT: Dr Graham Irvine is a Parkinson’s disease sufferer who approves of the use of medical marijuana. He is pictured at Southern Cross University, Lismore. Patrick Gorbunovs

Stonewalling on cannabis doesn’t help

GAPS in recent recommendations by a NSW Upper House committee to legalise marijuana for terminally ill patients make it almost impossible for the State Government to channel them into law, says a Southern Cross University academic.

SCU's Dr Graham Irvine completed a doctoral thesis in 2010 that argued the case for widespread legalisation of medical cannabis use.

In 2009 he became the only person in Australia to be granted the legal right to import British medical cannabis product Sativex for his condition, Parkinson's disease.

Dr Irvine said the failure to tackle the "issue of supply" would inevitably hamper the recommendations making their way into legislation.

"That was what they were briefed to do and they didn't do their job. The obvious consequence is it won't be legislated on," he said.

Acting Health Minister Kevin Humphries, speaking on behalf of the Government, has indicated the recommendations could face problems in Parliament.

"Commonwealth laws prohibit the importation of cannabis and our government has no plans to grow cannabis," Mr Humphries said in a statement.

"We will not agree to anything that will weaken the police's ability to crack down on illegal drugs."

Mr Humphries said the use of pharmaceutical cannabis products would ultimately be an issue for the Federal Government under the Therapeutic Goods Administration legislation.

That was what they were briefed to do and they didn't do their job. The obvious consequence is it won't be legislated on.

How supplying the drug would work in practice, which could include limited cultivation, was a similar brick wall encountered by a medical marijuana trial announced by Bob Carr's Labor Government in 2003. It never eventuated.

Earlier this year, Kempsey man Tony Bower was sentenced to 12 months jail for cultivating a marijuana crop used for a therapeutic tincture he dispensed freely to anyone with a cannabis-treatable condition.

Dr Irvine has spoken to "dozens" of ill people and GPs from Tenterfield to Tweed who he said were in favour of legal usage if the science stacked up.

His PhD proposed allowing personal cultivation for medical use, with those granted permission listed on a register.

The Upper House report noted it was "preferable for patients and carers to purchase crude cannabis products, seeds and equipment legally... (but) this may not be realistic in the present environment."

Protesters objecting to anti-drug laws march towards the office of Page MP Janelle Saffin.
Protesters objecting to anti-drug laws march towards the office of Page MP Janelle Saffin.
 

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