CAMPAIGN CONTINUES: Andrew Katelaris outside the Ubuntu wellness centre during the police raid in December.
Last month, seven police officers, up to the rank of superintendent, exercised a warrant against the Ubuntu wellness centre, in Newcomen Street, Newcastle, which resulted in the seizure and destruction of over 200 cannabis plants.
These were not run-of-the-mill cannabis intended for recreational use, but were specifically developed to treat children with intractable epilepsy.
Cannabis expresses two main cannabinoids, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has no psychotropic effect and is not a prohibited drug. CBD mixed with THC reduces the psychotropic effects of the THC, but augments its medical effects. Through experimentation we have determined that a ratio of three parts CBD with one part THC provides the most effective control of seizures in the majority of children. It has had life transforming effects on many of the treated infants and their families.
One of the children that this cannabis medicine has rescued from an untimely death is Deisha Magic Stevens. In 2015, her father, David, regrettably succumbed to cancer. He was an indefatigable social activist and attracted the attention of Mr Baird while on his death bed. The Premier gave a solemn undertaking to David that he would see to the care and wellbeing of his daughter.
The destruction of these plants has seriously jeopardised the supply of life saving medicine to Deisha and many other children. The fact that the Premier had been fully briefed on the miraculous results being obtained with herbal cannabis raises alarming questions. In our view these recent police actions constitute a breach of the most basic of human rights, access to life saving treatments.
Globally, there has been great advances in cannabis law reform and the social benefit that follows reform is impressive. In Colorado, where the cannabis prohibition has been completely repealed, there has been a significant reduction in domestic violence, fatal traffic accidents and suicides.
For a child with intractable epilepsy life is precarious. They endure painful seizures and suffer horrendous side effects from the allopathic medications. The most severe cases spend weeks or even months in hospital, often in intensive care. The financial benefit alone should justify immediate action. The annual cost to the health care system for each child with intractable epilepsy can be $200,000 or more.
In 2003 the then premier Bob Carr stated that no decent government could stand by while preventable human suffering continued and that a workable medical cannabis scheme could be established with common sense and compassion. It is sad to reflect that by this logic we have had no decent government in this state since then.
Due to the regrettable fact that the Turnbull government chose to place the production and distribution of medical cannabis under the Therapeutics Goods Administration means that access to medical cannabis will be delayed and expensive, when a simple herbal infusion of cannabis, easily prepared in any home kitchen, outperforms the best offerings from the major drug houses and at a fraction of the cost.
Is reform really that difficult? We are calling for interim measures, and an immediate moratorium on cannabis prosecutions would be a good start. It is high time we had a decent government in this state. In the meantime, Mr Baird, tell me where Deisha is going to get her medicine?