AFTER years of being fobbed off by government departments and getting frustrated by political forces out of his control, medical cannabis manufacturer Tony Bower is taking his case and his cause to the steps of parliament house in Sydney, and possibly to the Supreme Court.
Mr Bower has been making and supplying a cannabis tincture for around 300 chronic pain sufferers for several years. All of his patients must supply a letter from their doctor confirming their condition and he asks them to keep a record of the dosage they are taking, the effects it is having, and how it reacts with other medications.
He currently supplies his tincture for free, but if he can ever get past the bureaucratic hurdles, he plans to start a business that would supply his products on a commercial scale. He said he has had hundreds of additional requests for assistance, but can’t afford to supply them when his only income is a disability pension.
Mr Bower’s frustration is that there are currently several synthetic cannaboids legally imported into Australia and at least one that is derived from plant-based material. He told The Echo he has developed a business plan to capture a third of the market in Australia within five years of starting up. But all his efforts to have his products tested and approved by the relevant authorities have been stymied.
So this Sunday, August 21, Tony and a convoy of supporters will be setting off from Nimbin’s HEMP Embassy for Macquarie Street, where he says he will set up camp and not leave until he gets some action.
Tony has invited the NSW director general of health to meet with him and discuss a treaty on medical cannabis. He has also asked that supporters come down for a group sit-in and smoke-in on the steps of parliament on Tuesday, August 23.
Tony has notified the police of his intentions but said their response was a stony silence.
“There is nothing they can do, I am federally approved to carry it (cannabis),” he said.
Tony is in a unique situation where many years ago, after a horrific motorbike accident, he found that the pain relief he got from cannabis was better than anything else he tried and got a letter from his doctor recommending he use it. That letter was presented to a court and effectively lets him cultivate and carry marijuana for personal use. The federal police are also aware of his activities supplying “compassion clubs” (people who supply the products to others with chronic health conditions) and other individuals with conditions such as HIV/AIDS, MS, cancer, glaucoma and motor neurone disease, and it seems they have chosen to turn a blind eye.
“I’ve had enough (of being ignored). I’m going to stay there until I get a response. I’ll do whatever is necessary, even if that means going to court for giving people a smoke. I’m federally approved to grow, manufacture and supply. I just haven’t pushed the point up until now,” he said.
Tony said he had a QC lined up who is willing to take on the court challenge, which is effectively that the NSW Health Department is holding up his applications and his right to carry out a legitimate business.
“You can import (other similar products) into the country but they carry on as if we are criminals here,” Mr Bower said.
By Andy Parks