Medical cannabis campaigner Lucy Haslam says federal government legislation "set up to fail"

RALLY FOR ACCESS: Tamworth campaigner Lucy Haslam is calling for better access to medical cannabis for patients. Photo: Peter Hardin 200217PHD004
RALLY FOR ACCESS: Tamworth campaigner Lucy Haslam is calling for better access to medical cannabis for patients. Photo: Peter Hardin 200217PHD004

NEARLY one year after the federal government passed its landmark medical cannabis legislation, the situation for terminally-ill patients is getting worse, says Tamworth campaigner Lucy Haslam.

Mrs Haslam slammed the current state of affairs on the eve of the first anniversary of the bill passing.

“Unless the government changes they way they’ve written the legislation, the system’s been set up to fail,” Mrs Haslam said.

Tamworth’s champion for medical cannabis said the current pathway through the Special Access Scheme can leave patients waiting for up to “a year and a half”.

“And then when they get their medicine, they only get a three months’ supply,” she said.

Mrs Haslam said patients also face hurdles finding doctors who are “authorised prescribers” and knowing what countries products can be legally imported from.

“We’ve only got 23 authorised prescribers in the country and they’re mostly to do with clinical trials,” she said.

“There’s bugger-all hope for families who want to access it legally.

“So, that leaves people stuck with the black market.

“The whole reason for putting a scheme into place, was to get people away from the black market, get them to a safer supply and they’ve put so many barricades in front of people to actually get there.”

Friday, February 24 will mark one year since the federal government passed the Narcotics Amendment Bill and two years since the death of Mrs Haslam’s son, Dan, whose journey with terminal cancer kick started the conversation about medical cannabis use.

Two years since her son’s passing, Mrs Haslam has ratcheted-up her campaign, lobbying politicians at federal and state levels to improve access for patients in need.

Federally, Greens leader, Senator Richard Di Natale is tabling a disallowance motion aimed at improving access, with Mrs Haslam contacting Labor and cross-bench MPs to lobby support for the motion.

Meanwhile, the Labor opposition in NSW are set to put forward a bill offering more protection for patients and carers.

“So instead of the police discretion just being a discretionary power, they’re going to introduce a bill that would make that a regulatory thing, which would be good,” she said. Mrs Haslam will meet with NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Wednesday. “From a NSW perspective I think we’re getting a little bit closer,” she said.

This story System set up to fail: Haslam first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.