Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Medicinal cannabis trial approved or not marijuana still remains a big hit!

THE nation's first trial of cannabis for medical relief will begin in NSW by the end of the year, a move that Premier Bob Carr said yesterday would stop decent people feeling like criminals.

Cannabis is a herb that came from the Universe and that seed was planted on this earth for medicinal purposes, for all the people who enjoy a freedom of choice about what herbs they like to consume.

Why did and why does the government make all decent people who choose to take this herb not only feel like criminals but make them pay fines and penalties?

Carr seized on the pleas from a 62-year-old bowel cancer sufferer and an 80-year-old prostate cancer sufferer, who used the drug to relieve pain and nausea, to push the scheme in parliament.

"No decent government can stand by while fellow Australians suffer like that, while ordinary people feel like criminals for simply medicating themselves," he said during question time.

And so say all of us said Mr Bill Joint from Not Enough Isn't Enough.

"We are old enough to make the choice. Some of us middle aged and some of us towards the end of our life on this earth. Suffering like dogs because of some hypocrites who smoke behind closed doors and stand up in the house knocking the herb like it caused more problems than alcohol", he said.

Under the four-year plan, the Government will establish a new Office of Medicinal Cannabis within the Health Department.

Patients would have to register annually and would need a doctor's certificate advising that conventional treatment would not relieve their suffering.

People with minor convictions for personal drug use would be eligible to apply. But those with more serious drug convictions, or who are on parole, pregnant or under 18, would be banned.

People suffering from cancer and AIDS, nausea from chemotherapy, severe and chronic pain, spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis would be eligible.

But the questions of who will pay for the drug, and its form of distribution, are yet to be finalised. A draft bill will be presented to parliament within weeks.

Options include tablets and a special cannabis inhaler being trialed in Britain.

In authorising medicinal cannabis use, NSW will be joining countries such as the US, Canada and The Netherlands.

The plan, which follows a working party on the issue in 2000, was approved by cabinet on Monday and is understood to have received the broad approval of caucus yesterday.

It also drew in-principle support from Liberal leader John Brodgen and National Party leader Andrew Stoner, with strict conditions. The NSW Greens wanted the trial to be expanded to include children dying of degenerative disease and for non-hallucinogenic varieties to be used.

The announcement had the support of HIV sufferer Justin Brash, who began using cannabis in 1988 after his infection was diagnosed, in the hope of ending his nausea and restoring his appetite.

"I was down to 58kg and I was vomiting about six times a day," he said yesterday. "Then a friend suggested I try some marijuana. Soon after I had a smoke, the nausea was gone and I ate two bowls of noodles within about 20 minutes.

"I'm now up to a healthy 75kg and I believe that's because I'm smoking cannabis, but I'm not happy about having to use the black market to make me feel less ill."

Mr Brash, 47, said he was relieved the NSW Government had recognised the plight of sufferers of serious and terminal illnesses by offering them medicinal cannabis for pain and nausea relief.

The Greens went one step further, asking for the trial to be extended to include children with degenerative diseases and the development of non-hallucinogenic varieties.

"It is time to move beyond drug hysteria and allow sick people access to cannabis as it is the best treatment for their pain," Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said.

By Joe Bud 21 May 03

KOALA BEAR: Why discriminate about who can make a choice by the time they are 18? Why should a sick or dying person who has been convicted of a drug offence be banned from treatment if they have a history of a drug conviction? That is discrimination!

What if you happen to be in a position to be allergic to alcohol? Alcohol gives me a migraine headache, yet cannabis agrees with me and gives me a free high, that is if I don't pay $50 for it. Of course cannabis can give me a headache but only when I am in the police cells and look like getting a criminal conviction.


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