Medicinal cannabis oil producer and campaigner Jenny Hallam will be in court on Thursday. Picture: Dylan Coker
ON the morning of her first court appearance, medical cannabis supplier Jenny Hallam pleaded with the State Government to drop charges of possessing and manufacturing an illegal drug.
Until quality cannabis oil was freely available to people with chronic painful conditions, there should be an amnesty for suppliers like herself who were meeting a legitimate need, she said.
“I’m just asking for an amnesty until that legal source is in place — then the amnesty is gone and you have to use the legal one, fair enough,” she said.
“The State Government can do that, just until people can access it.”
On Thursday, Ms Hallam faces serious criminal charges which carry a maximum prison term of seven years after a police raid on her Hillier property on January 4.
Her first court appearance comes a day after the first shipment of legal cannabis was cleared by Customs and sent on its way to store houses around the country where it can be prescribed, at a cost, by approved doctors.
So committed is the Weatherill Government to facilitating cannabis use, and possibly growing cannabis crops, it has established an Office of Industrial Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis.
Ms Hallam said that while she thought the charges were ridiculous, and that she did not feel like a criminal, she would respect the court.
“I’ll be respectful and I will plead guilty,” said Ms Hallam who began making cannabis oil in 2014 and supplied a word-of-mouth network of about 200 sick people, some of them children.
“I’ve done, it I’ve never denied it.”
If the charges proceed, she and her legal team, headed by barrister Heather Stokes, will fall on the mercy of the court.
“I will have letters of support both from the people I have helped personally, their families who have seen how it’s made their lives better, and from the general public who appreciate what I’ve done and want me to be able to continue doing it,” she said.
Ms Hallam said she believed public opinion was on her side and that polls showed 94 per cent of Australians supported medical cannabis use. Supporters flew in last night from interstate and she invited others to join her, but not to use placards or disrupt proceedings.
She said she had received thousands of messages of support since January and that people stopped her in the street to thank her.
“It’s lovely that people appreciate what I’m doing but I’d rather not be doing it, it’s not a fun job,” she said.
She said cannabis oil could make people stoned if misused but getting high was not the intention.
“I start them on an extremely low dose and slowly bring them up so they get the painkilling effects but they don’t get stoned,” she said. “If you to start off on a high dose, yes you would get stoned, definitely. It does need to be used responsibly.”
Ms Hallam said she still took medical cannabis to treat a painful nerve condition brought on by a car accident.
She said this week’s import of cannabis oil from Canada would benefit overseas suppliers when manufacturers were available here.
“We’ve got companies here ready to go, including a company I’m working with in Victoria. We’re just waiting for them to sign off on it,” she said.