THE Country Women’s Association (CWA) of NSW has given its approval to the medicinal use of cannabis at the state conference in Tamworth last week.
In an historic move, delegates voted to pass two motions – the first from Woolomin Branch seeking CWA support for the use of medicinal marijuana, and another from Hermidale Branch seeking support for legislation to grow, manufacture and distribute marijuana for medicinal purposes.
It’s been a decade since the CWA debated the issue of legalising marijuana for medical use, and that vote – taken in the early 2000s – resulted in a tied decision, said state president, Tanya Cameron, Rowena Branch.
“With any tied vote the president casts the deciding vote, and at that time the president, Ruth Shanks (Dubbo Branch), cast a no vote,” Mrs Cameron said.
She said there was a lot more information available today about the benefits of medicinal marijuana, how it’s grown, along with an increasing number of reports about people using it.
In particular, Mrs Cameron said the widespread media coverage of the battle by Tamworth man, Dan Haslam, to have medicinal marijuana legalised, had changed many people’s perception of the drug.
Mr Haslam, who died from bowel cancer in late February, used marijuana for pain relief and
was instrumental in changing Premier Mike Baird’s position on medicinal use of the drug.
As a result, last December Mr Baird announced plans for a
clinical trial of medical marijuana for a range of conditions, including easing end-of-life pain, intractable epilepsy and chemotherapy-related nausea, for which Mr Haslam first sought treatment.
Cancer has cost Western Division grazier and Hermidale CWA Branch member, Fay McPherson, one lung, and neither chemotherapy or radiation treatments can treat the tumours which crowd her surviving lung and leave her breathless.
Her situation led to the Hermidale Branch’s resolution, which she put before delegates this week.
Mrs McPherson developed lung cancer in 2007 and had her right lung removed, but then cancer developed in the other lung.
Chemotherapy and radiation have failed to work.
She searched the internet for alternative treatments and research led her to medicinal marijuana.
Mrs McPherson, 74, “Brookside”, Byrock, presented her research findings to Hermidale Branch members and asked for their support to take the motion to conference.
Hermidale president, Dawn Elder, said once Mrs McPherson had explained her case, members were happy to put the motion forward to the conference.
“It helps when somebody you know is personally involved in a situation like this and is able to explain in detail,” Mrs Elder said.
The other motion in support of medicinal cannabis was put forward by Woolomin Branch president and trained nurse, Bev Dawson, who said the branch and community had been touched by Mr Haslam’s story.
"More and more people are being touched by cancer and disability that medical marijuana can relieve,” Mrs Dawson said.
Light at the end of the tunnel at Byrock
BYROCK grazier Fay McPherson says she is “dumbfounded” by the level of support received for her motion, put forward by Country Women’s Association (CWA) Hermidale Branch, seeking support for legislation to grow, manufacture and distribute marijuana for medicinal purposes.
“I was prepared with plenty of supporting arguments but didn’t need them,” she said.
“A lot of people want to try medicinal marijuana – it could offer them a light at the end of the tunnel when they’ve had all their boat paddles taken away but the boat hasn’t sunk.”
Mrs McPherson is prepared to use marijuana oil “whether I do so legally or not”.
Mrs McPherson had a set of chest scans taken in March and will have another set done in September to track growth rates or any changes in her lung tumours.
She will then start taking the oil and continue with regular scans to monitor any changes.
“My doctor believes the oil can either halt or reduce the size of the tumours in my lung,” she said.
“If the use of medicinal marijuana was legalised, then doctors would be able to prescribe dosages – I have a relative with breast cancer and she’s been cooking marijuana into cakes but has no real idea of how much she should be taking."