BY STATON WHALEY
A recent proposal for the legalisation of marijuana, put through to Parliament by the Greens Party has gained support from civil libertarian Senator for NSW, David Leyonhjelm. With both the Greens’ and Leyonhjelm’s outspoken support for cannabis usage many are left wondering if the devil’s lettuce is so evil after all.
A country seemingly so progressive lags behind others in its marijuana legality. The United States, Portugal, Spain, and Canada are just some of the countries that have legalised the drug, allowing for its sale while enjoying the benefits derived from its taxation. But this is where the Greens’ plan differs from much of the world.
Greens Senator Lee Rhiahannon told City Hub “Times are changing, so hopefully Australia catches up with the world sooner or later,” saying changes in the policy are “overdue.” The Greens plan focuses on ensuring “big companies don’t come in and grow cannabis and rake in massive profits.” Under the Greens policy an “Australian Cannabis Agency” would issue licenses for the production and sales of cannabis, as well as monitor the allowance of six plants per person for personal use. Violations include black market sales, or sales to youth.
All sales would be through a “licensed retailer only under tight regulatory control. They’ll also be required to complete courses like how [Australia] manages alcohol.”
Senator Rhiahannon proposed this plan under the belief that “there’s a real need to shift to legalising cannabis…considering that criminalising the behaviour has done worse than nothing as people have been caught up in the criminal justice system and it’s often damaging to their lives.”
Senator Rhiahannon said “Cannabis yields more drug arrests in this country than other drugs…consumption and abuse of cannabis increases and unfortunately the number of arrests keeps growing…Those figures show how prohibition is failing.”
Senator David Leyonhjelm backs the Greens proposal and said “what people do voluntarily that doesn’t harm other people isn’t the government’s business,” and “hopes in due course it will become apparent to Australia that it’s behind the rest of the world.”
Senator Leyonhjelm believes “prohibition isn’t working…and millions of dollars is being put toward law enforcement and making no difference whatsoever…cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and nicotine.”
But Leyonhjelm doesn’t think the bill is soon to pass, guessing “first it will get a number of years of medical use where it is being cultivated…processed…and supplied legally,” noting “there’s quite a lot of pressure on the health department…to make medical marijuana more widely available.”
Standing with Leyonhjelm is the Hemp Party’s Michael Balderstone, who “likes what the Greens have put up,” because it “separates cannabis…from all the other illegal drugs that are processed or chemical.”
Balderstone hopes to see “people allowed to grow their own plants and personal usage decriminalised,” but warns not to “hold your breath…Both major parties are being so cautious right now.”
Fred Nile, a member of the Christian Democratic Party and Member of theNSW Legislative Assembly, issued a press release following the Greens’ latest proposal.
Nile “calls on the government to focus more energy on getting Australians off the treadmill of substance abuse.” Nile first bashed the Greens, referring to them as “not…an environmental party,” calling their intent “a cynical ploy.” He goes on to put cannabis in the class of “dangerous narcotics.”
Michele Crane is creator of the annual Hemp Expo. The expo brings together the community through speakers and food in educating people about the benefits and uses of hemp.
Crane doesn’t see the legalisation process as near complete. She explains that “the first step is entire medical legalisation. Once…patients have easy access, then you can look at recreational legalisation.” The next action is “[getting] over this culture out there that likes being called stoners….…so the doctor or lawyer down the road…can partake without the idea that they’re holding back society.”
Crane would like to see cannabis consumption “similar to how it’s regulated in America. Everything is educated. That way it’s not so underground and black market. People can come out into the open.”
There appears to be a host of reasons to make cannabis recreationally legal, and no reason not to legalise it medically.
While making it easier to access for medical patients seems to be happening, progress has been slow.
With political action having been taken the tide is turning for legally grown cannabis and the public is seeing that it is a waste of money and resources to try and catch people enjoying their version of happy hour.