Marijuana laws ‘the real crime’

CannabisAustralia needs to chill out about marijuana and take its cue from US states Colorado and Washington by legalising the drug, the north-coast based HEMP Party says.

Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party president Michael Balderstone says Australia needs to spark up a debate and a referendum over marijuana laws.

‘If we had a referendum here and had a proper open discussion, a month-long discussion, I would think it would pass,’ he told AAP.

‘Our stance is that the law is a crime.’

Mr Balderstone argues that the law might also be stopping tax revenue.

In Colorado, the sale of up to 28 grams, or an ounce, of weed became legal on January 1.

State officials anticipate sales will generate about $US67 million ($A75.55 million) in annual tax windfall.

But critics say it will turn the Rockies into the ‘stonies’ by creating a culture of ‘pot tourism’.

Mr Balderstone does not deny the drug has been linked to psychosis, but argues the health damage is less, on average, than that caused by tobacco and alcohol.

‘Absolutely, it can (cause psychosis),’ he said.

‘It’s not for everybody, I agree.’

But he maintains people who get high are more likely to stay in than go out and cause trouble.

The Australian Drug Foundation warns there is no safe level of drug use.

‘Those with a family history of mental illness are more likely to also experience anxiety, depression and psychotic symptoms after using cannabis,’ the foundation says on its website.

‘Psychotic symptoms include delusions, hallucinations and seeing or hearing things that do not exist or are distorted.’

In May a NSW parliamentary committee recommended legislation to allow medical use of marijuana by patients with a terminal illness, and for those who have moved from HIV infection to AIDS.

The recommendation, rejected by the government, called for patients to have up to 15 grams of dry cannabis or the equivalent amount of other cannabis products and equipment.

A study published in medical journal The Lancet in 2012 showed 15 per cent of Australians and New Zealanders between the ages of 15 and 64 in 2009 used marijuana that year.

That figure was higher than usage in the US, where 11 per cent of the population got high that year.

Australia’s pot laws vary from state to state – the drug is illegal in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania.

Possession of marijuana mostly attracts fines in the ACT and NT, while WA users receive mandatory drug diversion counselling if caught with 10 grams.

Marijuana for medical use is legal and regulated in 19 US states, and has been allowed in some cases for the past 20 years.

Victoria’s acting premier Peter Ryan rejected suggestions marijuana would be sold legally in his state.

‘Absolutely not a chance,’ he told Fairfax Radio on Thursday.

‘Good luck to them in Colorado – not going to happen here.’

Mr Ryan said he had seen how cannabis could destroy lives and result in further drug use.

‘It is an interesting experiment; we will see where they are in a couple of years,’ he said.

7 responses to “Marijuana laws ‘the real crime’”

  1. Amanda Fazio says:

    The war on drugs has been an abject failure. It is time to admit defeat and change the prohibition on marijuana. Too many people have received criminal convictions for possession and use for what is essentially no worse than consuming tobacco or alcohol.

  2. Steve says:

    If these are Mr Ryan’s words he’s a fool! the same “experiment” has already been done in Amsterdam, why does it need to be re-done?
    For years cannabis has been blamed as the “gateway drug”, the drug that leads to heroin and the likes.
    Rubbish! Alcohol is the first mind altering substance most people experience, but do we call this the “gateway drug”?
    Personally, I think people are better off without any mind altering substances, alcohol included, where there’s a high a low is waiting.
    But this should be each individuals choice and each individuals responsibility.
    If a crime is committed such as assault, theft, etc, punish the person for the crime.
    Cannabis is not a crime, or is there somewhere in the bible that says; thou shall not ingest cannabis?
    This is a somewhat boring interview but well worth a look for all those who have or know someone with cancer;
    Stage 4 prostate cancer cured in 3 months, with zero side-effects.
    The cancer patient being interviewed is a a bio chemist with 10 years work in the field of cancer research.
    So Mr Ryan, do some research.

  3. Louise Macaulay says:

    When I first came to Australia about a decade ago I was rather shocked at the hypocracy involved in the amount of publicity about marijuana being linked to psychosis. The ad campaign was merely a scare tactic to make straight people very afraid of pot smokers. And it worked. It created a really huge gap in society that has not gone away. Those who like to party vs those who like to be straight. Unfortunately its a silly debate because it never goes anywhere except creates false realities that do not generate tolerance. Anything that alters reality, even sugar, nicotine and caffeine is going to be a health hazard. Too much sugar can also be a mental health hazard. Meanwhile marijuana, although can be argued about links to psychosis also helps hyperactive people calm down. Im afraid Australia probably wont get it in my life time, it will always generate its scare monging ad campaigns and keep the sanctimonious people uptight about it. It would be nice if this country could chill out more!

  4. Paul Underhill says:

    We still have a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment and a find of $2,200 or both for the self-administration of prohibited drugs. How ridiculous.

  5. kim calder says:

    Maybe the under-the-table marijuana pocket-lining to organised crime & some in govt proves much more juicy than any legal tax could ever be. This will continue, with some laughing while others rot in pain or in jail, until we decide to pay attention to who profits from this unsustainable situation, and big (sick) pharma.

  6. Keith Bolton says:

    People have the right to do what they want and to be who they are up to the point at which they harm others or the environment. Cannabis prohibition laws are a travesty of fundamental human rights and cause far more harm than what they mitigate. True leaders do not perpetuate laws that cause harm.

  7. Dave says:

    Marijuana is not a soft drug. Smoked habitually, it ruins brains and lives. I see the damage in my medical practice. Many habitual marijuana smokers use it to self-medicate underlying disorders. Others have psychotic and depressive illness exposed by marijuana. Its often a disaster ending in tragedy for the person and their family.

    I’m not commenting on occasional use of bush weed, which has never really been under threat. I’m referring to habitual use of potent weed in a way that would be facilitated by the commercialisation that accompanies legalisation. Haven’t we learned anything from Big Alcohol and the insidious creep of our national drinking problem.

    The US is already regretting its commercialization of marijuana, with a rise in marijuana related mental illness.

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