A father who juiced cannabis to ease the suffering of his two daughters has avoided jail time.
Stephen Taylor’s daughters, Morgan and Ariel, both suffer from the auto-immune disease Crohn’s and have been repeatedly hospitalised.
Mr Taylor began to grow and juice his own cannabis after struggling to find a doctor who would help him through the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) lengthy application process to legally access medical marijuana.
Mr Taylor, who had earlier pleaded guilty in court, was given a six-month good behaviour bond and no conviction was recorded.
Magistrate Stephen Corry told Penrith Local Court he had sympathy for Mr Taylor’s situation, but he should not expect the same outcome if he persisted growing cannabis.
Police alleged Mr Taylor had 107 plants in his backyard when his house was raided at the end of 2017.
“The ideal juicing is 30ml, three times a day. Two girls — 180mls a day,” Mr Taylor said.
“That’s a lot of plant material.”
He told 7.30 he struggled to understand why the Government was making it so difficult to access medical cannabis.
“I think it’s just wrong the way the Government has set this up, that we cannot access this amazing plant,” he said.
“So many parents are screaming out for it.
“Unfortunately there are so many parents getting arrested for it.”
Many people ‘self-medicating with cannabis from friends’
In the two years since medical cannabis was legalised, an estimated 1,059 patients have been able to gain access to the program, according to the TGA.
Professor Iain McGregor, a psychopharmacologist at the Lambert Initiative For Cannabinoid Therapeutics at Sydney University, estimates as many as 100,000 people in the country may be using illegal cannabis for medical problems.
“They’re self-medicating with cannabis that they get from friends or grow themselves,” he told 7.30.
“There’s this massive discrepancy between what Australians are doing covertly and the overt approved system which, so far, I would say, is probably not delivering.”
Professor McGregor said juicing cannabis “gives a very different cannabinoid profile than smoking cannabis”.
“In many ways, juicing is a positive thing to do because you don’t get nearly as much of the intoxicating element, which is THC [tetrahyrdocannabinol] and you get another component of cannabinoid, which is THCA [tetrahydocannabinolic acid], which has very strong anti-inflammatory properties in the gut,” he said.
“Proper clinical trials on THCA have not been done and this is one of the generic problems that we have with medicinal cannabis — this prohibition that we have over the years is really stymieing progress in terms of learning the therapeutic effects of the plant.”
Mr Taylor’s lawyer, Sally McPherson, told 7.30 she was trying to get the New South Wales Parliament to urgently pass laws to stop prosecutions like those of her client.
When so many people are illegally “self-medicating” while awaiting a doctor to prescribe them legal product, she has urged the Government to change the laws to put a stay on proceedings.
She suggested a stay of three to six months until a charged person can provide a doctor’s prescription and evidence they are a lawful user.
Ms McPherson has also asked for the drug driving laws to be changed so a defence can be allowed for “lawfully prescribed” medicinal cannabis users. Currently there is no defence if users have a trace of the substance in their system.