Australia’s first farm to legally grow marijuana for medicinal purposes was launched by the government on Friday.
Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he had a personal reason as he launched the 47-hectare farm at a secret location near the country town of Tamworth in northern New South Wales.
Joyce revealed his brother Tim has stage four bowel cancer, and said everything possible should be done to help relieve the pain of those suffering debilitating health problems.
“When you can find a use for any part of a plant that can assist people when they are ill, when they are in pain, you should do it,” Joyce said, the public broadcaster ABC reported.
The farm, which will be kept behind high barbed wire amid tight security, was named DanEden in honour of Dan Haslam, who died of cancer last year after a public battle to legalise medicinal marijuana in Australia.
His mother Lucy had to buy marijuana illegally to alleviate her son’s pain.
She led a long public campaign to legalise marijuana for medicinal purposes, eventually winning over conservative political leaders like Joyce.
“We have been able to bring Australian political views up to date with current world views to change laws,” she said, the ABC reported.
“We have begun the process of re-educating Australian health providers around the use of medical cannabis.”
The southern state of Victoria this week became the first in Australia to legalise using medicinal marijuana. Other states are expected to follow in the near future.