21:07 AEST Thu 20 Sep 2001
NSW Cabinet is to consider a report which found most people want cannabis to be used for medical purposes, particularly for pain relief.
While cannabis is illegal in NSW, the state government is investigating whether to follow other countries which allow people with serious illness to use it for pain relief.
A report on the results of community consultation into the drug's usage released in state parliament today found more than 70 per cent of 117 respondents said its use for medical purposes should be allowed.
Eleven per cent opposed it completely while the rest did not hold a position.
The majority of respondents were private individuals rather than organisations with most working in the areas of drug and alcohol counselling and in medical fields.
The report revealed cannabis was already being used illegally by patients suffering from illnesses from cancer and multiple sclerosis to severe menstrual pain and migraine.
The drug had relieved symptoms such as pain, depression, appetite loss, muscle spasm and nausea, according to users.
The key concerns about using the drug related to difficulties in getting it and the need for a safer alternative to smoking cannabis.
Those against the use of the drug argued for existing approved medication to be used for pain relief.
These were mainly from anti-drug and religious organisations which raised concerns that a medical cannabis scheme could be abused or incite corruption.
NSW Premier Bob Carr said state Cabinet would discuss the report's findings in the coming months.
"The government will keep in mind the risks associated with cannabis, the range of community views on the subject but also the need for compassion," he said.
"I have seen the physical and mental pain, the wasting and nausea caused by cancer and its treatments."
Mr Carr said a working party recommendation
handed down last year for the drug to be the subject of government-funded
clinical trials would also be considered.