FIX IT: Lucy Haslam is appalled with Dan's Law and wants the nation to rally for easier cannabis access. Photo: Gareth Gardner 200219GGE02
In a one-on-one interview with the Leader, Lucy Haslam reveals the pain this Sunday will bring, marking four years since her son's death and why she's retracting claims of victory on medicinal cannabis.
IN THE Haslam living room, something lingers.
To turn your eye to another corner of the room is to find another milestone from a young man's life.
Birthdays, weddings, parties and moments enshrined.
This weekend marks another anniversary for the family and also a turning point.
Sunday will mark four years since the death of their son and brother, who looms large in family portraits throughout the home but whose absence is still felt.
Dan was just 25 when died with terminal bowel cancer.
The anniversary of a loved one's death years down the track might be marked with reflection, perhaps a tear or even a smile.
The mourning for mother Lucy Haslam will be marked with a different emotion.
She's repulsed the legacy of her young son's death has turned more tragically sick Australians into criminals, forced to source cannabis from the black market for succour after being ostensibly stonewalled by fallacious legislation named in Dan's honour.
"While I used to be proud of that achievement, I now feel completely repulsed by it because of the way it has turned out for patients," she told the Leader.
In the three years since the federal government passed Dan's Law, permitting the cultivation of cannabis in Australia, Mrs Haslam says only 3000 approvals have been supplied.
It's a figure she claims is a stretched truth.
With patients en masse having easier access to medicinal cannabis relief through illegal means, Mrs Haslam has had enough and will call on the country to #FixDansLaw.
So what went wrong?
Tamworth's Lucy Haslam has lobbied ministers, premiers and MPs of all persuasions, who initially responded to her plight with compassion.
But she said "politicking" has created a needlessly obstructive system that has proven too hard for many patients and doctors to navigate.
It's an outcome that has landed a long way from where she had planned after going public with the Doing it for Dan campaign almost five years ago.
"We want to go back to the regulator of medicinal cannabis bill which was introduced in 2014 and passed in 2015 through the lower house," she said.
"It was a cross-party bill, it had really wide support and it was the government politicking on the last sitting day of parliament in 2015, saying, 'We don't need this bill, we are going introduce our own bill and amended the narcotic drug act'."
She said this meant cannabis went under the watch of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Medicinal cannabis products remain unapproved by the TGA and these drugs can only be acquired through the Special Access Scheme.
It ostensibly means all approved options have to be exhausted before doctors can even apply for access for an unapproved cannabis product.
It's a rigmarole doctors do not have time for, Mrs Haslam says.
The process is too protracted, the products are shrouded in mystery, doctors can't advertise they're prepared to prescribe and patients still find it easier to go to the black market.
"More and more people are being criminalised for being sick," she said.
"It is really poor public health policy. "The government is talking big on being able to export to the world, saying Australia wants to be the biggest exporter of medical cannabis in the world and gloating about that, yet our own patients can't access it."
Launching her campaign to #FixDansLaw, Mrs Haslam said the goal was to go back to a bill similar to what was first floated in 2014.
She said there needed to be an independent regulator for medicinal cannabis and for the products to be extricated from the TGA's watch.
"It was the best model and it is what most countries do," she said.
This Sunday, Mrs Haslam will relaunch the change.org petition, which started when Dan was alive and garnered more than 250,000 signatures, as a retraction of any claims of victory and to call for laws to be fixed.
She is calling on people to post #FixDansLaw selfies, contact federal Labor leader Bill Shorten and Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King to ask them where they stand, and urge doctors to get educated.
Originally published here: https://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/5916875/repulsed-lucy-haslam-calls-on-nation-to-fight-to-fixdanslaw/