I support the use of cannabis in medically supervised situations where it can bring relief to people suffering from serious illness, such as late-stage cancer.
I believe arguments against the use of cannabis in medical situations are influenced by its illicit use as a recreational drug and run counter to the accepted use of opiates such as morphine and its derivatives for pain management and other medical purposes.
I do not support the recreational use of marijuana and am particularly concerned with its potential for negative psychological effect, including in the development of psychosis. However, restricted use where medical practitioners agree that it will be beneficial, and where alternative therapies may have failed or become ineffective, seems sensible, compassionate and reasonable.
This view was shared by a cross-party NSW parliamentary committee which investigated and considered the uses of cannabis for medical purposes. It recommended in its report that provision should be made to allow medical use of cannabis by patients who have been advised by their treating specialist that they have end-stage terminal illness.
I note that the Cancer Council NSW also supports this stance, acknowledging that cannabis may be of medical benefit to cancer patients where conventional treatments are unsuccessful.
While the NSW Government did not take up the recommendations of the parliamentary committee, I understand there will be new moves this year to bring forward a Private Member’s Bill seeking to legalise the use of medicinal cannabis by terminally ill patients. While I am yet to see the detail of this proposed Bill, I certainly support its intent.
I'm pictured above with Ben Oakley, a young man who suffers with Stiff Person Syndrome. His use of cannabis oil has been found to significantly reduce and almost eliminate the regular seizures he endures.