Medicinal cannabis to give Australian farmers a new industry

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The New South Wales regional city of Tamworth is set to house what could be Australia's first medicinal cannabis farm. The property was set up by Lucy Haslam, whose son Dan died of bowel cancer last year.

Six years ago, Lucy Haslam received a phone call that changed her life.

It was her then 20-year-old son, Dan, calling to say he had stage four bowel cancer.

What followed was five years of chemotherapy, radiation and major surgery -  taking a severe toll on Dan.

"It got to the point where he had to be hospitalised every time he had chemotherapy. None of the pharmaceuticals where able to control his nausea and he was getting weaker and weaker," Ms Haslam said.

Lucy Haslam (SBS)
Lucy Haslam (SBS)
SBS

One day, a friend suggested Dan try using cannabis to relieve his nausea.

Ms Haslam said Dan felt the effects instantly.

"We were absolutely blown away. A couple of drags on a cannabis cigarette and it worked. His nausea stopped and he immediately had an appetite and asked for something to eat. And he then began to use cannabis every time he had chemotherapy and he didn't vomit again."

Lucy and Dan led a campaign for Australian governments and doctors to recognise the medical benefits of cannabis

"We had to buy cannabis from the illicit drug market so you actually just don't know what you're buying what conditions it's been grown under, what strain it was," Ms Haslam said.

Dan died last year.

Lucy remains determined to provide legal cannabis to patients in need.

She set up Dan Eden, a property on the outskirts of Tamworth.

The property is still waiting for approval, but could soon be one of the first legal medicinal cannabis farms in the country, employing as many as 50 people --  as well as providing a safe and legal source of medicinal cannabis.

It's a move welcomed by 48 year old Narelle, who has incurable spinal cancer.

When she first sought out cannabis oil, Narelle was surprised by the prices some sellers charged.

48-year-old Narelle has a rare form of spinal cancer (SBS)
48-year-old Narelle has a rare form of spinal cancer (SBS)
SBS

"This person wanted $3000 for 60 days worth of oil. And it was something I couldn't afford anyway."

For Narelle, a legal and safe source of the drug through Dan Eden would have many benefits.

"When you're desperate you'll do anything, pay anything if you think it's going to help with your health."

Deputy Prime Minister and Local Nationals MP, Barnaby Joyce has welcomed the possibility of Tamworth growing medicinal cannabis and said the Dan Eden property could offer a strong agricultural opportunity for Australian farmers.

Lucy Haslam at Dan Eden (SBS)
Lucy Haslam at Dan Eden (SBS)
SBS

"It just gives people another way to get a better return through the farm gate. A better return through the farm gate means a better return for small towns," Mr Joyce said.

Ms Haslam agreed medicinal cannabis farming could provide a unique new industry for the farming sector.

"I would like to give something back to Tamworth it's a great opportunity for a new industry, something that's innovative."

Source SBS World News

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