Riverina medical marijuana advocates rejoice as parliament passes bill

A RIVERINA farmer who watched his sister slowly succumb to cancer has joined the tsunami of support for medical marijuana.

Lake Cargelligo farmer Philip Hill has had a dramatic conversion on the merits of the drug after watching his late sister get “profound relief” in her final months by using cannabis oil.

His call comes as the federal parliament on Wednesday passed historic legislation providing a pathway for legally-grown medical marijuana in Australia.

For the drug to be legally sold and used, state governments must now follow suit.

Mr Hill slammed the NSW government’s decision to mandate lengthy clinical trials before legalising the drug as medicine.

“These trials have successfully run overseas and I’m worried the government is going to pussyfoot around it and not get on with it,” Mr Hill said.

“The public needs educating on this issue. I had to go through a tragedy to realise how vital medical cannabis is.”

An army of users have come forward in recent months claiming the much-maligned drug can be more effective than pharmaceuticals in treating pain relief, nausea and even intractable epilepsy in children.

Not everyone is so convinced.

Riverina Cancer Centre radiation oncologist Dr Anupam Chaudhuri said he remained ambivalent about the clinical benefits.

“It is quite common for patients to ask us about using it,” he said.

“There are some definite studies around the world that show benefits for relieving pain and anti-nausea.

“But there are legal drugs that can help with these issues, especially pain relief.

“It means there is not quite the justification for us to recommend (medical marijuana).”

However, he said if it was legalised and its dosages regulated, he would have “no problem” in prescribing it to patients.

Wagga MP Daryl Maguire has previously supported the concept of legalising medicinal marijuana.

Federal counterpart Michael McCormack said he supported it under “strict conditions”.

“If somebody is in palliative care in excruciating pain and with no known cure, who is anyone to say they shouldn’t use it?” Mr McCormack said.

He said there was also potential for the region’s farmers to play a role in growing legal cannabis.