Pubdate: Mon, 11 Sep 2006
Source: Australian, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2006sThe Australian
Author: Hamish Townsend
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)


THE normally conservative Country Women's Association will lobby
governments to begin trials in the medicinal use of marijuana.

In a decision that may send ripples of concern through conservative
parties, the CWA national executive voted in Darwin 11 days ago to
lobby for cannabis to be tested as a treatment for chronic pain.

Incoming CWA president Leslie Young, a member of the Tasmanian branch
from where the motion is understood to have originated, said her
members wanted "all the options" in their healthcare.

"Cannabis is another option for people who are terminally and
chronically ill," Ms Young said. "We'd just like them to do the trials
and find out."

Ms Young, a trained nurse who runs a vegetable and livestock farm with
her husband and 28-year-old son at East Sassafras near Devonport, does
not believe the move puts the CWA in conflict with its traditionally
conservative members.

"We don't look at those things; we're just concerned with the issues
important to our members. I'm not aware of other groups pushing this,"
she said. "Our members have taken the position that anything that
helps relieve pain and chronic illness should be made available."

While Queensland Nationals president Bruce McIvor said his party was
against the use of marijuana in any form for any purpose, Queensland
Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce was more willing to consider the option.

"If it was virtually anyone else I'd say 'no way', but I've always
respected them for having their heads screwed on," Senator Joyce said.
"So if they came out and said something, you'd have to have a look at

The Australian Medical Association was cautiously supportive of the
CWA's position, with spokeswoman Choong-Siew Yong saying "the AMA
don't have an official position on this, but I think most doctors
would be OK with further research."

The CWA has long had a reputation as a conservative community
organisation not known for taking on national political causes. While
Ms Young denied the CWA was becoming radicalised, she said political
advocacy was important.

"The CWA was originally set up to look after the issues of its
members, but we've never really blown our trumpet," she said.

"The knitting and cooking are still important because of the
companionship and skills that are passed down, but there's a mighty
lot of youngies in it. Queensland has a large younger set."

Spokespeople for federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health
Christopher Pyne and Opposition health spokeswoman Julia Gillard did
not return calls.
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