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News (Media Awareness Project) - Australia: Medicine Man Silent No More
Title:Australia: Medicine Man Silent No More
Published On:2011-08-19
Source:Northern River Echo, The (Australia)
Fetched On:2011-08-23 06:01:21

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

"You can import (other similar products) into the country but they
carry on as if we are criminals here," Mr Bower said.
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