ACT News

Katy Gallagher hit with threats by medical marijuana campaigners

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has dismissed internet threats levelled at her by medical marijuana campaigners, a day after revelations she reported a man to authorities for providing a 2½-year-old Sydney girl with cannabis oil.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher speaks to the media on Thursday.
Chief Minister Katy Gallagher speaks to the media on Thursday.  Photo: Rohan Thomson

The Australian Federal Police raided the man's Canberra home after Ms Gallagher reported his actions to child protection authorities and police in February.

The man, who asked not to be identified, sent Ms Gallagher photos and emails describing the condition of the girl, Abbey, and explaining how the cannabis oil he provided to her family had eased symptoms of a rare genetic disorder CDKL5.

NSW mother Cherie holding a picture of her daugher, who can no longer get medical marijuana
NSW mother Cherie holding a picture of her daugher, who can no longer get medical marijuana Photo: ABC News

Ms Gallagher forwarded the email to police.

Abbey suffers from serious seizures, developmental disorders, low muscle tone and visual impairment, and doctors were preparing to admit her to palliative care before her condition improved while she was treated with small doses of cannabis oil.

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Ms Gallagher, who also serves as ACT Health Minister, said on Thursday she had acted in accordance with her mandatory reporting responsibilities to protect Abbey's welfare.

Media reports of the case have led to vitriolic abuse and threats to Ms Gallagher, including in Facebook groups, on her official page and via Twitter.

Some of the threats make sexually derogatory comments and mention Ms Gallagher's own children.

Ms Gallagher dismissed the abuse and said threats were expected by political leaders amid the ongoing debate about medical marijuana.

Legislation to legalise the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is being considered in the ACT and New South Wales, as well as by a cross-party group of MPs in federal Parliament.

"It's very easy in social media to have a go, it's very easy to read a headline and not actually understand the complexities of the issues that lie beneath," Ms Gallagher said.

"It is very easy to call people names and threaten their children and do a whole range of things."

Other Facebook users have suggested Ms Gallagher could be responsible for Abbey's death.

A spokesperson said no official report to police had been made. 

"I don't think it adds anything to the campaign to legalise or have marijuana used for medical purposes. It's just the social media world so it has done nothing to influence me," Ms Gallagher said.

The supplier, who gave the cannabis oil to Abbey's mother Cherie at no cost, sent photos of Abbey to Ms Gallagher after years of correspondence on the issue.

"I felt that there was no other alternative available to me than to forward that to both child protection and to the police, which is what I did and I still think it is the right thing to do despite people raising concerns about it," Ms Gallagher said.

An ACT Policing spokesman said no complaints about social media comments have been received.

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