Mike Baird’s unexpected leap into the unknown with medical cannabis – Sydney Morning Herald

On trial: Medical marijuana

On trial: Medical marijuana Photo: Rob Homer

Over the past few weeks, people have been offering to supply Mike Baird with marijuana. Understandable, perhaps, given that the NSW Premier did admit to “experimenting” in his youth during interviews to mark his first 100 days in office in July.

But of course, it’s Baird’s enthusiasm for finding a way to use cannabis to offer relief to the terminally ill and others that has some prospective suppliers excited.

Since announcing in September the formation of a working group to establish a clinical trial for medicinal cannabis in NSW, Baird has been receiving correspondence containing bouquets and brickbats for his trouble.

Both are coming from enthusiastic supporters of cannabis as a medicinal alternative to pharmaceuticals for illnesses ranging from cancer to epilepsy.

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Baird is receiving correspondence from people offering to supply the cannabis for a trial, but also criticism of the decision not to act immediately and decriminalise the plant for medical purposes so that those suffering can potentially get some timely – and legal – relief.

He has also been condemned by some who don’t believe the drug should be legally available for any purpose. But reports from within the government suggest the overall response has been largely supportive – so far.

Perhaps that’s unsurprising, given the catalyst for the proposed trial: the plight of 24-year-old Daniel Haslam whose family has been accessing cannabis for relief of the nausea brought on by chemotherapy treatment for his bowel cancer.

But step back for a moment and think about what is happening here. In NSW, where the politicisation of the debate over illicit drugs policy has a long and inglorious history, it is the Coalition state government that is pushing ahead on the issue. That’s unexpected, to say the least.

It’s also why there appears to be some nervousness within the government …read more

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