May 12, 2004
The NSW government has sought federal backing to trial cannabis as a medicinal treatment for people suffering acute pain that cannot be treated with more conventional therapies.
NSW Premier Bob Carr has written to Prime Minister John Howard seeking his help in setting up the trial involving HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis patients.
Mr Carr said the government had no intention of decriminalising cannabis, and other alternatives of accessing cannabis would have to be explored.
"NSW is opposed to any scheme which involves growing cannabis in backyards or requiring sick people to buy it on the black market," Mr Carr said.
"That means we need to look at the alternatives, and that in turn requires cooperation from the Commonwealth and, I hope, from the other states and territories."
Mr Carr said importing cannabis products from Canada under strict conditions was one of those alternatives.
"Canada and eight American states, including Colorado and Washington, allow the use of cannabis for strictly medicinal purposes," he said.
In May last year, Mr Howard said he would support a trial to allow cannabis use for pain relief in the chronically ill as long as the drug was prescribed.
But he said he would not back patients growing their own marijuana and remained opposed to the decriminalisation of the drug.
The NSW government has previously consulted with the UK Home Office about the progress of an inhaler spray.
Mr Carr said he's asked Mr Howard to nominate a ministerial representative
to work with NSW to progress the proposal.
Copyright © 2004, The Age Company Ltd.