Magistrate Calls for Medical Marijuana to be Legalized in SA
AN ADELAIDE magistrate has re-ignited calls for the State Government to relax cannabis laws for people in chronic pain, saying "they are not criminals".
Mt Barker magistrate Clynt Johansen wants the Government to consider changes to the law so those who might benefit from "medical marijuana" could access it without fear of prosecution.
Cannabis and cannabis products are prohibited in SA under the Controlled Substances Act (1984).
Mr Johansen says he sees about 25 cases a year in which people in chronic pain have fallen foul of the law because they have turned to illicit drugs for relief.
"In my view, they are people that need some help," he tells saweekend magazine today.
"They are not criminals.
"But because of the law, they are deemed to be criminals."
Mr Johansen says he is against recreational drug use and accepts that cannabis has proven risks and can be a gateway drug.
"But where you've got someone facing imminent death, through cancer, through any other type of illness or severe ongoing pain-management issues, I say forget the science," he says.
"Give them the pain relief they need."
Last year, Mr Johansen convicted Balhannah man Colin Lindner, 60, without penalty for growing cannabis he used to treat chronic fibromyalgia.
He urged MPs to review the laws around the use of cannabis for medical reasons.
Then attorney-general Michael Atkinson said the Rann Government would not consider relaxing the laws.
"Once the breach was opened up for so-called medicinal cannabis, it will just lead to cannabis for everyone," Mr Atkinson said.
Health Minister John Hill and Attorney-General John Rau did not respond for comment this week.
Mr Hill's spokeswoman issued a statement from Drug & Alcohol Services SA chief Keith
Evans, who said any move to legalise cannabis "would have to seriously consider the
evidence of an association between cannabis use and range of health conditions, including mental illness".