Wednesday 16 May 2001
New South Wales Premier Bob Carr said yesterday his government would go ahead with its cannabis trial despite a US decision to ban the drug's use for medicinal purposes.
The US Supreme Court ruled that California cannabis clubs could not legally distribute marijuana as a "medical necessity" for seriously ill patients.
Mr Carr said he would never decriminalise the drug but believed there were grounds for testing it as a form of pain relief for people suffering from illnesses such as cancer.
The decision to investigate a cannabis trial stemmed from watching his former Labor colleague, the late Andrew Ziolkowski, "reel" from the effects of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer.
"That had a big impact on me and if the experts say there is a way of ... delivering relief to people being treated for cancer, then I would want to see that available to people racked with pain," Mr Carr said.
"We don't want to decriminalise marijuana, (and) we don't want this to be a gateway for doing that. But on compassionate grounds I find myself ... at odds with the US Supreme Court."
Mr Carr said the NSW Government had received more than 100 submissions on the proposal, which emerged from a 1999 report on the potential of cannabis to alleviate suffering.
The report recommended research and clinical trials into the drug's use and cannabinoids (the active ingredients in cannabis) for people with certain medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis, HIV and cancer.