“I’m in a constant state of amazement. I would gladly give it up and have Dan back in a heartbeat but that’s not the way life is. We just had to do this, we had no choice,” – Lucy Haslam

This month, as Australia announces wide scale changes to cannabis laws, many cancer patients and parents of epileptic children can look forward to medicinal cannabis being a reality. There is one Australian family who have made that reality possible, credited with not only changing public opinion with their relentless campaigning for the sick but actually bringing about legislative change with a 245,000 strong Government petition. They are the Haslams.

The Haslams were upstanding citizens (Lucy worked as a nurse for 25 years and her husband Lou was a drugs squad officer in the NSW Police force for 35 years) until they were forced to break the law to help their son. Dan was 20 when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Bowel Cancer in 2012, the Haslams at this time had no knowledge of medicinal cannabis, their collective working experience making them wary of any illegal drugs. It wasn’t until Dan began his crippling chemotherapy that they unwittingly became criminals, the rest is history.

“It caused him to suffer from uncontrolled nausea and vomiting after every chemotherapy session. We were desperate to ease his suffering.”

“It wasn’t until a fellow cancer sufferer suggested he try cannabis that his life with cancer became a little more tolerable. A sick young man reluctantly tried a joint and just like that, he felt so much better. He gained an appetite, had his nausea and vomiting addressed and was able to maintain his weight through his ongoing treatment.”

Dan and his mother began campaigning for the use of medicinal cannabis for cancer patients and brought it to the media’s attention, he became the face of medical marijuana meeting numerous Australian news reporters and eventually NSW premier Mike Beard, who was so moved by their story that he set in motion the law change that exists today:

“I will never forget the look in his eyes the first time I met him and it will stay with me forever,” the Premier said in a statement. “Dan made a lasting impression on everyone he met, but, more than that, he left a legacy in NSW that will be felt across the nation, and I believe the world. Every step we take on medical cannabis will be built on the footsteps he left behind.”

After four years of battling Dan died on the 25 February this year, right up until his death he never stopped campaigning, raising awareness of cannabis oil as a treatment for cancer. His mother promised that she would continue his fight to legalise medicinal cannabis for cancer patients in Australia.

“I know he’ll [Dan] be really proud. He cared about other people and when he was sick, he cared for the other patients more than himself when he went through chemotherapy.”

They are only just getting started lambasting the governments around the world in an open statement for the Guardian for not acting more swiftly:

“Being sympathetic to a cause sounds lovely, but it’s not enough. When that cause is decriminalising medicinal cannabis, we’ve heard enough sympathy. It begins to sound like apathy. It is a delaying tactic. An excuse for further procrastination. Meanwhile, horrifically sick people – including those with terminal illness and life threatening conditions – continue to suffer unnecessarily when cannabis could afford them relief.”

The Haslams have vowed to open cannabis farm and have applied to the NSW government for an exemption to start a 2 million dollar research and development centre on a farm in Tamworth.

“My goal is that in the short to mid-term we’ll be able to produce a product to supply people like Dan who need compassionate access to medical cannabis now.”

“I know he’ll [Dan] be really proud. He cared about other people and when he was sick, he cared for the other patients more than himself when he went through chemotherapy.”

“He made a huge difference.”

So have you Lucy and Lou Haslam, we at MMJ salute you and your family for your fine work in the field of cannabis in the treatment of cancer and for single handedly changing public opinion and laws down under.