For Women’s History Month, we want to take some time to celebrate some women who have made significant contributions to the Australian Hemp and Cannabis Industries. Recently, we had the incredible opportunity to have a chat with Lucy Haslam to get the lowdown on her experience, the current state of Australian Medicinal Cannabis, and what she’s up to this year.
Since 2014, she has been at the forefront of the battle for medicinal cannabis for sick Australians. Lucy became involved with medicinal cannabis when her son, Dan, was suggested to use it for his cancer treatment. She began her journey in the cannabis industry after seeing first hand how effective medicinal cannabis is for patients undergoing cancer treatment. Before her son Dan tragically passed away, he asked Lucy to promise to fight until everybody who needs this medicine can access it easily.
The journey is ongoing, and Lucy has continued to inspire leaps and bounds in the medicinal cannabis industry through the story of Dan, who brought one of the most blatant stories of the benefits of medicinal cannabis to Australia.
Continue reading to learn more about Lucy, Lou, and Dan’s story.
Doing It For Dan
Dan Haslam was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2010, and the outlook for medicinal cannabis in Australia hasn’t been the same since. Facing anticipatory nausea when thinking about chemotherapy, Dan was recommended cannabis by a friend, and initially, he wasn’t about it. However, his mother, Lucy, and his father, Lou, had a different perspective on it: “Why not give it a go?”
Lou was once the head of the drug task force in Northern New South Wales but opened to trying this ‘illegal drug’ for his son. Suddenly, Lucy found herself trying to source medicinal cannabis so that Dan could have a fighting chance at a better quality of life. One of the most beautiful depictions of the experience was the story of the first time Dan tried cannabis in the backyard and immediately asked for food afterwards. Truly remarkable!
Unfortunately, in 2014 Dan passed due to the illness. All he asked is that his mum, Lucy, would continue the fight for cannabis access for patients who need it. She pursued this with a burning passion and no hesitation.
Lucy’s Fight for Medicinal Cannabis In Australia
Lucy started United in Compassion as a non-for-profit that aimed to provide information and access to Australian patients. Through united in compassion, they were the peak medical cannabis advisory that helped bring about the 2016 amendments to legislation that allowed lawful cultivation of medicinal and research purposes. The philosophy behind the movement is “Dan’s Test”, which sets expectations of high quality, easy-to-access medicinal cannabis products with ”No Patient Left Behind”.
“Every step we take on Medical Cannabis will be built on the footsteps Dan left behind” – Mike Baird, NSW Premier.
Since Dan left us, Lucy has continually generated awareness, provided education, and worked to change the laws surrounding Medicinal cannabis in Australia.
One project we’re looking forward to this year is the annual Medicinal Cannabis Symposium held in August. This is a three-day event that aims to teach doctors, nurses, aged care workers, natural health practitioners, and anybody else looking to learn how to prescribe and treat patients with cannabis products. At this event, you can expect to find doctors, scientists, researchers, and activists who have been working with this plant for a large part of their career.
If you’re interested in registering for the Medicinal Cannabis Symposium, it’s being hosted near the sunshine coast. You can register here!
Current Laws for Medicinal Cannabis in Australia
In November last year, the Australian government moved CBD from a schedule 4 to a schedule 3 drug. This was supposed to enable Australians to purchase CBD oil over the counter without a prescription. It was a long-awaited amendment to the law but unfortunately ended up being a thin change.
On the day the Australian government moved CBD to schedule 3, patients found that the move was a classic facade which resulted in the assumption that people could finally purchase the medicine they need – without breaking the law.
After rushing to the closest pharmacy, hopeful patients were turned down and told that there is still another 6-24 months before CBD is available from a pharmacy.
Unfortunately, some of these people might not be around to see it.
It’s been over five years since we lost Dan, and the government is still dragging their feet, pretending to make a change but keeping things the same.
People are still being prosecuted for improving their quality of life with a natural plant that’s been proven to alleviate symptoms and even cure disease… But it’s more than that. These people have had a ‘carrot dangled’ in front of them by the very collective meant to serve and protect their right to life. Hearing this first hand from Lucy, who experienced the struggle first hand, was truly heartbreaking. Her mission is almost complete, but she can’t rest yet.
Lucy won’t stop until her promise is fulfilled, and the persistence and determination shown is nothing less than breathtaking. All we can do is hope that the Australian government can find it in them to come to a favourable decision regarding CBD and medicinal cannabis sooner rather than later.