Clinical cannabis trial backed by MP Greg Aplin

ALBURY MP Greg Aplin yesterday backed the running of clinical trials before any possible legalising of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

A private member’s bill for such a change will be put before the NSW Parliament next month by Nationals MP Kevin Anderson.

Under such legislation, it would be legal for terminally ill patients to possess 15 grams of cannabis.

Premier Mike Baird said earlier this week that he was sympathetic to such a proposal, though warned any solution had to address concerns about supply and regulation.

Mr Aplin shared this view.

“The thing is when you make legislation one has to be extremely careful that you’re not legislating on the basis of an individual issue,” he said.

“It should be of benefit to the community as a whole.

“You’ve got to be careful in reacting because one obviously feels enormous sympathy for the people who are undergoing such trauma.

“They would be crying for anything to relieve that distress.”

Mr Baird commented after meeting Tamworth man Daniel Haslam, 24, who began using cannabis to give him relief from the effects of chemotherapy for his bowel cancer.

Mr Aplin said he agreed with the view of Australian Medical Association national president Professor Brian Owler, who insisted a clinical trial had to precede any law reform.

Professor Owler argued this was a necessity for the regulation of medicines in Australia.

Mr Aplin said he saw the parliamentary debate on the private member’s bill as just a first step in the process of a deeper analysis of the issue.

“And surely it needs to be looked at in a national sense because the questions inevitably arise then of whether (legalised medicinal cannabis) would fall under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” he said.

“We do have to rely upon expert opinion in that sense.”

Mr Aplin said it was important to establish whether cannabis actually had some clinical benefits.

“But hard reality also determines that one has to look at the ramifications,” Mr Aplin said.

Border Medical Association chairwoman Tracey Merriman said the issue had not been discussed by or raised with the association board.

For that reason, the association had no comment on the issue.