Previous Premier of the Australian state of New South Wales, Mike Baird, has reportedly become a patron of medical cannabis advocacy group, United In Compassion.
The Daily Telegraph reported Mr. Baird said he became a “big believer” in medicinal cannabis after meeting the son of United In Compassion founder, Lucy Haslam. Dan Haslam was diagnosed with bowel cancer at age 20 and used medical cannabis to alleviate the side effects of his cancer treatment.
“There is evidence that medical cannabis is working, it’s providing relief when other forms of drugs aren’t,” said Mr. Baird; who led a number of medical marijuana initiatives while Premier of New South Wales.
United In Compassion’s list of patrons has steadily grown – it includes a number of other well-known individuals including Olivia Newton-John, Dick Smith and John Williamson. Another ex-Premier is also among the patrons, Lara Giddings, who was Tasmania’s 44th Premier.
“The time has come to put old prejudices aside and to take a compassionate and common sense approach to the issue,” says Ms. Giddings.
On the weekend, United In Compassion held its inaugural Hummingbird Masquerade Ball, the proceeds from which will support the work of the group in promoting education, support, and better patient access to medicinal cannabis.
“We need a war chest to fight for the rights of patients who remain being ignored by Government,” said Ms. Haslam. “Now a matter for recognition of human rights and medical necessity…the sad reality of the Australian Government’s medicinal cannabis policy.”
One of the group’s current focus areas has been New South Wales.
“The last Health Minister did not share the previous Premier Mike Baird’s vision and compassion needed to act. But I know Minister Hazzard can turn this mess around and be a champion for patients and doctors,” says a petition that has gathered more than 56,000 signatures.
United In Compassion’s campaign appears to have some effect. Last week, Minister Hazzard announced a $6 million statewide advisory service aimed at supporting doctors to help some patients gain access to medical cannabis more rapidly.
Membership of United In Compassion is free – further details can be found here.