Daniel Haslam's legacy leads to medicinal cannabis windfall
The legacy of a young man from Tamworth who changed the NSW Premier's view on medicinal cannabis has been boosted through a $33 million dollar donation to the University of Sydney
grandfather's love has lead to a $33 million dollar donation to Sydney University for medicinal cannabis research.
Businessman and philanthropist Barry Lambert says the donation was inspired by his granddaughter who lives with epilepsy.
"The experience of our granddaughter Katelyn has opened our eyes to the extraordinary possibilities of cannabinoids treating not only her condition but a range of chronic illnesses that often don't respond to conventional treatments," Mr Lambert says.
It was during a patient forum at the inaugural Medicinal Cannabis Symposium held in Tamworth NSW last year when Katelyn's father Michael shared the family's story of trying to access the drug and oil to treat his daughter.
The forum had been organised by Lucy Haslam as part of her advocacy for patients, including her son Daniel who lost his battle with cancer earlier this year.
For more than a year before he died Daniel and Lucy have been campaigning for medicinal cannabis to be legalised, winning the support of the NSW, Premier Mike Baird.
Mrs Haslam says it was at the forum that Michael Lambert met with scientists from Sydney University and talked to them about the kind of research that could be fostered.
"It's a large amount of money and a lot of planning will be involved, they want to look at all sorts of disease processes and conditions that medicinal cannabis is used for," says Mrs Haslam.
"This little child has Dravet syndrome, which is one of the intractable epilepsies and unresponsive to normal pharmaceutical products, the family have been importing medicinal cannabis for her illegally and at great expense and obviously this is just a grandfather who wants to see things set right for his granddaughter and for other people," she adds.
"Certainly the scientists have said to me, Lucy this would never have happened except for us coming to the symposium, that is pretty awesome news, and in terms of world donations it is biggest donation I've ever heard of for medicinal cannabis research."
Mrs Haslam says anyone who is supporting medicinal cannabis in NSW should be very excited.
"The Lambert initiative is a green light to do meaningful research."
"It has always been such a contentious issue, this really means we can move ahead and I think we can do something really special, the guys at Sydney University have their background in cannabis, looking at the harms of cannabis, so in studying those harms they have come to realise that there are so many therapeutic values of cannabis that we would be foolish to ignore them, so they are feeling full of enthusiasm to get into their labs," she says with excitement.
Mr Lambert's granddaughter, Katelyn, has been suffering from a form of crippling epilepsy called Dravet syndrome since she was six months old