Daniel Haslam dies, but fight to legalise medicinal marijuana goes on
Images of children with epilepsy or those suffering from the effects of chemotherapy have been shown on news programs and talked about on radio, with the suggestion that one thing can dull the pain and give quality of life.
That thing is medicinal marijuana, and thanks to one man, the conversation about its legalisation is being had in Australia. Daniel Haslam died surrounded by his family on Tuesday, after suffering from an aggressive form of bowel cancer for more than four years.
With the support of his mother, Lucy, a former nurse, and his father, Lou, a former drug squad detective, Haslam created a national campaign to legalise marijuana for medicinal purposes.
He sparked the debate and gave politicians and the general public a chance to peer into how the effects of marijuana bring an added quality of life to those suffering during bouts of chemotherapy.
The nausea, the vomiting — Haslam questioned why a vaporiser couldn't be attached to each chemotherapy chair, why people weren't being given the substance that could mean the difference between living and feeling alive.
Thanks to the efforts of Haslam and his mum, as well as the "Dan's Story" campaign, the New South Wales government decriminalised small amounts of medical cannabis for cancer patients.
"We will keep fighting for medical cannabis and make it freely available to people who need it," Lucy said, following her son's death.
But following a moving speech in parliament last June, changes have been made and new policies are being put forward.
"As parents of three sons, Lou and I have always been opposed to recreational drug use," Lucy said during her parliamentary speech.
"I resent that in a country where we can provide heroin-injecting rooms and needle exchanges, where our government collects taxes from cancer-causing tobacco and the biggest killer of all, alcohol, we are forced into criminality because our son is unlucky enough to be one of the thousands who has, through no fault of his own, contracted a life-threatening disease," she said.
More than 59,000 members of the NSW Nurse and Midwives' Association supported the cause and agreed that patients who suffer from chronic pain could benefit from the medicinal use of marijuana.
Since Daniel's passing, an outpouring of support has been shared from politicians and the public alike. Haslam paid a big price, but his legacy is sure to live on, here's how:
- In 2014, NSW premier, Mike Baird, announced the NSW government's support of medicinal marijuana after hearing about Daniel's story.
- In December last year, $9 million was allocated to three trials on medicinal marijuana and how it affects patients suffering from pain and illness.
- The Greens' Richard Di Natale has seen the formation of a regulatory body to control the growth and distribution of cannabis for those suffering a terminal illness or undergoing chemotherapy.