I hate marijuana. I first smoked it when I was seventeen. My face went green and I had a panic attack… because I thought my nose was going to fall off. Since then, I haven’t really enjoyed it and I doubt that I ever will.
There are many things in life that people simply should not be allowed to have or do. That is to say, to a certain extent, I am a prohibitionist! I believe that billionaires should be prohibited from taking high office; I believe that bankers and miners should be prohibited from influencing, or owning, Government; and I believe that certain Governments should be prohibited from making it impossible to park in Canberra whilst employing an extra twenty-five parking inspectors.
But, of course, when it comes to a person’s cognitive liberty, that is the right to their own mind, thoughts, and beliefs, the concept of prohibition is an affront to one’s very personhood. My experience with marijuana did not cause me to impose my distaste upon others, nor did it cause me to pass judgement on those who use marijuana recreationally and especially not those who use marijuana medicinally. Yet Governments, across Australia, thus far, not only refuse citizens the freedom to choose what they do with their own bodies, they impose criminal sanctions upon them in retribution for their personal choices.
As many of you would be aware, Shane Rattenbury MLA has released a discussion paper on medicinal marijuana – mysteriously and serendipitously on the very day that the Australian Sex Party announced its commitment to the people of the ACT in the lead up to the 2016 territory election. Regardless of the fact that the accompanying legislation will be rejected by the Legislative Assembly, Shane should be commended for bringing this issue to the fore. But does it go far enough?
The regulation and taxation for the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana is an issue similar to those of voluntary assisted dying and marriage equality in that, eventually, they will become a reality… a legislative reality. And while I respect the opinions in opposition to my own, I maintain that to resist such liberties is to stand on the wrong side of history.
Shane has proposed that in the ACT people should grow their own marijuana in their ‘secure’ backyards. Rather than getting old Aunt Berell to roll a joint every now and then, obviously, the medical community would prefer that it be cultivated and dispensed under strict and controlled conditions. How on earth is Great Uncle Dave going to control his THC levels? Canberra doesn’t want people as high as kites; Canberra wants people to receive the medical care that people living in democracies deserve.
Under Rudd, Labor’s greatest mistake, the Greens rejected Australia’s first step towards taking real action on climate change in the hope that it would force a double dissolution election. Rudd lacked the balls, and the rest is history. My point being, that if you ‘play’ politics with important issues, it’s the public who bears the brunt of the backfire. And you also run the risk of creating monsters in your wake such as an Abbott Government.
I hope that the issue of medicinal cannabis will not slip away from the public’s grasp as has happened with action on climate change.
Historically, the war on marijuana was a Conservative ideological reaction to the movement of peace that so exemplifies the social changes of the sixties. Why perpetuate it? The war on drugs has failed.
There are always casualties with freedom, but there are always more casualties with prohibition. Many of us may not like marijuana but we must respect that sick people are fighting to the death, literally, to uphold the liberty to choose what they do to their own bodies. As with freedom of speech, we may not like what people say, but we can all understand fighting for the right for them to say it.
Our Governments need to get out of the way and respect the fact that an overwhelming majority of Australians believe that the medicinal and recreational use of cannabis is a liberty stolen by the arrogance of Conservative ideology. Perhaps the Conservative naysayers can all go to Western Australia with Gina Rinehart and kill some sharks or something. As for the rest of us, let’s just be free and compassionate.