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Authorities ‘hold back cannabis research’

CANNABIS may be a viable cure for chronic pain, but convincing the authorities is proving to be a political minefield for one pioneer.

Tony Bower, founder of Mullaway’s Medical Cannabis, has developed a way to access the healing qualities of cannabis without the infamous ‘side effects’, and his weekly Nimbin dispensary is fast gaining popularity.

It’s Saturday morning at Nimbin’s Hemp Embassy and its president, Michael Balderstone, is making us (conventional) tea while we wait for Mr Bower, the most popular man in town. Mr Balderstone says we’ll just have to wait.

Following a serious motorcycle accident 30 years ago Mr Bower developed a method to distil a stable tincture of THC (the active component in cannabis) capable of providing effective relief for sufferers of chronic pain, without the often debilitating side-effects associated with prescription painkillers.

Mr Bower has since successfully helped sufferers of cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and migraines.

In Australia a synthetic cannabinoid known as Marinol is available under strict conditions, but Mr Bower says his is better.

He explained that different strains of the plant have different effects, and he has identified the types which are better for therapeutic use.

A court appearance for cultivation of cannabis 12 years ago effectively left him with permission to grow up to 49 plants for personal use, but now demand for his product means he needs to grow more and licensing is proving problematical.

The Federal Police have told him to ‘get a legal framework around it’, but the bureaucratic toing-and-froing between the Therapeutic Goods Administration and NSW Health has left him in a legal no-man’s-land.

“I think I’m too hot tohandle. Every time I line up a university to do the necessary tests there’s pressure from above to shut it down,” Mr Bower said.

His solicitor, Debra Sands, believes NSW Health is baulking and intends to take the case to the Supreme Court.

By Dominic Feain