NSW government open to trial of medical cannabis

Clinical trials of medicinal cannabis could happen in NSW, but Premier Mike Baird is waiting on details about regulation and supply before making any commitments.


Under a private member’s bill to be introduced next month by Nationals MP Kevin Anderson, terminally ill people and their carers will be legally able to carry up to 15 grams of cannabis.

Mr Baird indicated his support after meeting Daniel Haslam, a 24-year-old who in 2010 was told he would only live for a few more months.

Asked if he would support a clinical trial, as proposed by the Australian Medical Association, Mr Baird said “it may well be something we have to do”.

“I’m open to that,” he told ABC Radio on Thursday.

Mr Haslam began taking cannabis to relieve his symptoms and help deal with the side effects of chemotherapy.

His retired nurse mother Lucy and father Lou – former head of the drug squad in northwest NSW – are now asking politicians to legalise the controversial drug.

“I was struck with Daniel and the battle he’s in. It’s heart-wrenching,” Mr Baird said.

“I’ve got deep sympathy and empathy with their position.”

But Mr Baird is waiting to see details of the bill and whether it will address his concerns about the sale and regulation of the drug.

“I’ll be looking closely at that,” he said.

“Let’s get to the details of what comes forward.”

He wouldn’t say whether government MPs would be given a conscience vote on the proposal, which is supported by the Greens and has provisional backing from the opposition.

But if the bill satisfies Mr Baird, it seems likely Daniel and his family won’t be forced to break the law for much longer.

“If we can provide relief to them in those circumstance, well, what premier would not want to do that?” Mr Baird said.

NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson said he’s willing to work with the government but, like Mr Baird, wanted to see how the bill addresses things such as supply and access before fully endorsing it.

“I’m not writing a blank cheque, but I am very supportive of his notion,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“If marijuana is part of the solution to dealing with those issues as a means of relieving people’s pain, then we should be looking at that.”