South Australian medical cannabis producer Jenny Hallam says she will remain defiant after being summoned before a judge on charges of the possession and manufacturing of a controlled drug and intending to supply it to another person.
The charges come after police raided the home of Hallam in Hillier, north of Adelaide, on January 4 and seized cannabis oil products she say she supplies to people for free. She is expected to appear before the Elizabeth Magistrate's Court on May 4 but told The Huffington Post Australia she doesn't fear going to jail.
"I'm going to be louder and stronger and they're going to regret the very day they came and raided my house," she said.
"I'm not shutting up, I'm not going away. I don't care if I go to jail.
— Jenny Hallam (@72Hallam) April 7, 2017
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced in February that the Federal Government would allow certain companies in Australia to import medical cannabis from overseas, and sell it to patients who have been prescribed the product by their doctor. Currently patients can access medical cannabis from overseas sources, but Hunt said access was on a case-by-case basis and required patients to wait many weeks for the drug to arrive.
Hallam says she had been supplying cannabis oil free of charge to more than 100 people nationwide for two years and was also raided by police in 2014 for supplying medical cannabis.
She told HuffPost Australia her services have gained her a rise in prominence among people who are desperate for medicinal cannabis products and has been inundated with calls and messages from people who need help.
"I thought it would slow down, its actually getting worse," she said.
"I feel terrible but I can't do anything. There's only so much I can do, I'm only one person giving it away for free, I'm limited by physical and financial restraints.
"I can't help everyone in Australia but everyone thinks I can."
For years, the South Australian-based medical cannabis campaigner has been trying to raise the profile of the drug, which is both the subject of a series of medical trials in Australian states and, simultaneously, a booming black market.
"Somebody has to be the person that has to stand up and say enough is enough and I think that has been me."Jenny Hallam
Now that she has been officially charged, she says she has received a wave of support from people who have come to her in the past for help and are now growing angrier.
"They're angry, I've had so many messages, I've had phone calls, I've had private messages, I've had text messages, I've had messages through Twitter," she said.
"People are desperate and you can't blame them when the government is dangling this carrot above their head saying 'it's available go talk to your doctor'."
In response to Hunt's February announcement, carers said they felt "cautiously optimistic" about the new scheme, which allows companies to import bulk loads of medical cannabis and sell directly to those who need it, meaning patients no longer have to wait for their own product to arrive.
Australia is currently growing its own crops of cannabis for medical use -- in February the Victorian government announced its first harvest had been completed -- but it will not be ready for some time.
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