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Cannabis in Canberra

By Steven Bailey - 11 September 2014 30

cannabis-stock-110914

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.

What’s Your opinion?


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30 Responses to
Cannabis in Canberra
Snow_Crash 1:22 pm 12 Sep 14

dungfungus said :

Our local government sees so many great things happening in Singapore which could be adopted in Canberra.

Why not also adopt the Singapore stance on drugs namely execution for dealers and users.

Let’s entertain your notion for a moment and see where it leads us.

Let me try and understand your point of view.

Do you back it because we should be like Singapore, or some other reason? (If the former, you will then also have to back other policies they have).

Otherwise, the latter, and from there. Exactly how would you sell execution to the Australian public? Even assuming you had the popular backing required to support your understanding of what you think most Australians are all about?

I’m guessing you’d demonstrate the dangers of marijuana as the basis for promoting your suggestion. Or perhaps some other rationale?

Rollersk8r 11:16 am 12 Sep 14

I think medical and recreational are separate arguments. A proportion of people who are in pain may have a preference for it – but how does that translate to a free for all? Don’t people who are suffering medically already have access to legal, marijuana and opiate-based medication? It’s not that big an issue – you really lost me on the climate change and marriage comparisons.

I actually don’t have a strong opinion on legalisation – I smoked a bit in my late teens and quite enjoyed it at the time. But what I do know is the schoolfriend who introduced me to it, 20-odd years ago, never stopped. It has completely ruined his life and sucked every bit of potential out of him, no exaggeration. He still talks like he’s 17 or 18, like it’s just a phase and he can quit the stuff at any time…

dungfungus 10:14 am 12 Sep 14

Our local government sees so many great things happening in Singapore which could be adopted in Canberra.

Why not also adopt the Singapore stance on drugs namely execution for dealers and users.

Southmouth 6:31 am 12 Sep 14

The polarising thing in this argument is going to be (as with most things) life experience. Those with lives and families untouched by debilitating slow progressing terminal illness won’t get it. Many of us though, will welcome such a change, administered correctly.

HmGmG 11:05 pm 11 Sep 14

James_Ryan said :

Yeah, but drugs are bad right?

Won’t somebody think of the children.

Think about the message that it sends?

What about the children watching their parents drink alcohol and or smoke? Both are as bad as any drug but highly accepted by society because is regulated by goverment. So, why not regulate them all?

dungfungus 10:29 pm 11 Sep 14

John Hargreaves Ex MLA said :

I reckon I would imbibe a rock if I thought it would help me over the pain cancer would deliver. I have had a smoke of hooch and it is fine, but I am a non smoker of anything now (thanks to a heart attack from smoking tobacco).

The issue is not about legalising and taxing marijuana now, it is about giving the terminally ill a passport to a pain free journey. And the problem is?

How about we stop thinking about ourselves and start thinking about those who need cannabis for pain relief?

As an aside, I support legalising marijuana anyway. I hate black market thugs making money out of the unfortunate.

What a great role model you are, John.

John Hargreaves Ex M 7:54 pm 11 Sep 14

I reckon I would imbibe a rock if I thought it would help me over the pain cancer would deliver. I have had a smoke of hooch and it is fine, but I am a non smoker of anything now (thanks to a heart attack from smoking tobacco).

The issue is not about legalising and taxing marijuana now, it is about giving the terminally ill a passport to a pain free journey. And the problem is?

How about we stop thinking about ourselves and start thinking about those who need cannabis for pain relief?

As an aside, I support legalising marijuana anyway. I hate black market thugs making money out of the unfortunate.

Grimm 7:09 pm 11 Sep 14

Bosworth said :

Grimm, do you also support alcohol and cigarette prohibition?

I’m absolutely not a proponent of prohibition. I’m merely pointing out that even weed, which I myself have said should be freely available, and honestly up until maybe a month ago was completely harmless, can have far worse effects on people than I ever knew.

Skidd Marx said :

Grimm said :

Medicinal use I completely agree with.

I honestly never thought I would disagree with recreational use either, and couldn’t see the harm in people smoking a little weed, up until recently, when I met a young lady whos life is basically in tatters because of it. I’d have never believed it without seeing it with my own eyes, but it is addictive, it does cause psychosis, and for some people is every bit as bad as the harder drugs.

Elicit psychosis in those predisposed, yes. Cause – no.

Peer reviewed studies to be cited on this, please?

Anyway, call it how you see it. I was a huge believer in the same thing until very recently. An otherwise normal, nice young girl who now suffers massive anxiety and panic attacks, imagines the most horrible things constantly, and can’t even sleep without it. Sweats, shakes, stomach cramps, has anger issues and massive mood swings without it too. Same thing I have personally seen in heroin addicts during detox. It’s really, really sad. Again, I’d never have believed it without seeing it myself. This isn’t a casual joint every now and then either, it’s habitual use, several times a day. Anybody saying it can’t become addictive is fooling themselves. Physical or mental dependance, either way, is still dependance. Cannabis induced psychosis, whether predisposed or not, is still psychosis. Neither are a good outcome.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 7:02 pm 11 Sep 14

Bugger it.

Legalise drugs. Regulate and tax them. Educate people about the dangers.

People will use anyway, might as well have them contribute to the costs of running society.

James_Ryan 5:44 pm 11 Sep 14

Yeah, but drugs are bad right?

Won’t somebody think of the children.

Think about the message that it sends?

HenryBG 3:23 pm 11 Sep 14

bigpunisher said :

It is blatantly obvious the war on drugs world wide is a lost cause, a battle lost a long time ago..

It’s not just a lost battle, but a battle whose negative results and costs have far exceeded any conceivable costs of that being battled against.

http://www.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/DrugProhibitionWP.pdf

This US report found that legalizing drugs would:
– save $41billion pa in law enforcement activities
– earn $47billion pa in taxes
– eliminate 1million arrests per year

Other metrics to check would be the report from Bill Clinton’s 2009 RAND report which found health outcomes would be vastly improved if just a small fraction of these wasted law enforcement collars ($3billionpa) were diverted to health.

Finally, a vast amount of income would be denied to organised crime, resulting in a cascading indirect benefit in the form of reduced crime and even more savings from the law enforcement budget.

bigpunisher 2:50 pm 11 Sep 14

It is time to legalise all drugs. Regulate them all as we do alcohol and tobacco. Its time to treat the addiction and not punish the users. It is blatantly obvious the war on drugs world wide is a lost cause, a battle lost a long time ago. Time to regulate and use the income source from these substances to address the addiction and health issues and break the criminals that take advantage of this source of capital.

Skidd Marx 1:34 pm 11 Sep 14

Grimm said :

Medicinal use I completely agree with.

I honestly never thought I would disagree with recreational use either, and couldn’t see the harm in people smoking a little weed, up until recently, when I met a young lady whos life is basically in tatters because of it. I’d have never believed it without seeing it with my own eyes, but it is addictive, it does cause psychosis, and for some people is every bit as bad as the harder drugs.

Elicit psychosis in those predisposed, yes. Cause – no.

Bosworth 12:11 pm 11 Sep 14

Grimm, do you also support alcohol and cigarette prohibition?

Grimm 11:40 am 11 Sep 14

Medicinal use I completely agree with.

I honestly never thought I would disagree with recreational use either, and couldn’t see the harm in people smoking a little weed, up until recently, when I met a young lady whos life is basically in tatters because of it. I’d have never believed it without seeing it with my own eyes, but it is addictive, it does cause psychosis, and for some people is every bit as bad as the harder drugs.

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