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Australia: Cannabis Accepted as Pain Reliever

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Jan.6, 00
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Contact: letters@smh.fairfax.com.au
Author: Jackie Dent
An Alice Springs magistrate has spared a builder from jail after accepting he possessed and cultivated cannabis for medicinal purposes. Nicholas Gallitch, 54, was instead sentenced to 28 days' home detention and random drug testing by magistrate Mr Warren Donald at Alice Springs courthouse yesterday. Mr Donald accepted that smoking marijuana could have beneficial effects and accepted Gallitch smoked marijuana to relieve pain. "This is the breach of the law that has been driven by the pain you have suffered," he said during sentencing.
At a trial in November, a doctor testified that Gallitch had tried a variety of other prescriptive drugs for his back pain - which stemmed from his years of working as a labourer - but they did not work or he suffered allergic reactions. Research about the medicinal effect of marijuana was also tendered as evidence. After sentencing yesterday, Gallitch said he would have to be more careful when he smoked marijuana.He said he used it only to have a good night's sleep. "I never thought much of it," he said. "I thought it was one of those things that people took just to have kicks.But what I found out was that it didn't have that effect on me ... "After taking it, about 20 minutes later, it just knocked me out completely.Knocked me out for about six hours, seven hours. I had a good sleep, I would get up in the morning, free and easy and ready to face the day."
In February last year the Queensland Supreme Court also accepted that cannabis could be used for pain relief after hearing the case of a Mackay man who had grown 150 marijuana plants which he claimed were for his own use in relieving back pain. The NSW Premier, Mr Carr, announced last October that the Government was setting up a working party to examine the possibility of using cannabis as prescribed medication for pain relief. The working party - which will meet this year - will include representatives of organisations including the Australian Medical Association, the AIDS Council of NSW, the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and NSW Health.