20 C
Byron Shire
April 12, 2021

Federal Election 2019: a referendum on cannabis laws?

Latest News

My own pandemic imaginations

Robert Podhajsky, Ocean Shores Imagination is a powerful mechanism; I must admit I get unsettled with my own pandemic imaginations...

Other News

Interview with DeeBee Bishop

Thirst is the story of Stan Adams, as told by Deebee Bishop. He was one of six housemates who lived with Stan in a broken-down share house when he’d walked away from his life to live rough. Decades later, Deebee tells the story.

Dead rats in the Byron bubble?

Poppa Veet Mayo, Main Arm Am I the only one who can smell a dead rat in this bubble called...

Interview with Dan Willis

Dan Willis brings Best of British back to the Byron Comedy Festival. It was a sellout last year, with the audience confirming it as one of the favourite shows of the program. Dan is back – this time with Rory Lowe and John Flynn, and spoke with The Echo…

Linen SHIFT project urgently needs new home

With a vision to disrupt the cycle of women’s homelessness, the Linen SHIFT project was born to provide unique individual support and education for at-risk women in a safe residential environment, but today they they have been forced to close.

The importance of talking about ovaries

Brother and sister clothing designers Camilla Freeman-Topper and Marc Freeman are, were 11 and 13 respectively when their mother died of ovarian cancer.

Sick to my stomach

Gabi Giacomin, Ocean Shores I cannot believe it! We have voted for a Green MP, a Green Council, we have...

Sustainability 2018 cover photo by Tree Faerie, model Amete wearing handwoven hemp, thanks to Mike and Maxine Shea from the Hemp Collective Byron and to David Lowe.

Mia Armitage

Nimbin’s annual Mardi Grass festival seems appropriate for an Australian Hemp Party election campaign launch but to really get the point across, a police raid is even better.

Not that the Nimbin Hemp Embassy president and AHP’s NSW number two senate candidate, Michael Balderstone, planned either event to coincide with his election campaign.

‘All of us had to march out past the sniffer dogs and we’ve had to be outside for about four hours but [the police] were very courteous and reasonable,’ he told Bay FM Community Newsroom host Mia Armitage after the operation.

‘I mean, it shows how political cannabis is now’, Mr Balderstone continued.

‘With the election coming on and Mardi Grass starting, the timing was pretty extraordinary, very political I thought.’

Pot stocks and law reform so hot right now

The same could be said about cannabis as an election issue in general: with the phenomenon of a global so-called pot-stock market; cannabis legalisation in one way or another in Uraguay, Canada and Thailand; recreational cannabis now legally bought and sold in some states of America; and case after case of Australian judges highlighting inadequacies in cannabis laws, is the time right for Australia to reconsider its policies on cannabis?

The AHP has about 7,000 members but is only registered on a national level – the party was unrepresented in the recent New South Wales election.

Mr Balderstone has run for the senate a couple of times before but so far AHP candidates have never made it into parliament.

He describes the party’s presence in this year’s election as an opportunity for a pseudo ‘referendum’ on cannabis law reform.

But if Mr Balderstone did get into the senate, what’s the first thing he would do?

AHP priorities: RDTs, weed as a herb and ‘a few’ plants at home

‘Probably hire a lawyer to help me work out how to change the laws,’ he laughs.

‘I’d work my way through all the members of parliament to sit down with them and try to see where they’re at with cannabis because it’s all about education really,’ he says.

‘My job would be to talk to people and try to get them to hear we’re where coming from.’

Mr Balderstone says his first three priorities for cannabis law reform are roadside drug testing, separation of cannabis from other non-herbal illicit drugs and legalisation of ‘a few’ home-grown plants.

‘Our big nightmare has become roadside drug testing,’ he says, ‘you can be busted three or four days after smoking a joint, there’ll still be a trace of THC in your saliva.’

‘It’s very serious, people are losing their license, their jobs,’ he says, before mentioning this month’s new on-the-spot license suspension in NSW for drivers found with traces of cannabis in their saliva.

Industrial hemp a ‘huge earth saver’

The senate candidate describes AHP as a ‘single issue’ party but gets excited when asked about climate change and housing.

‘Pretty much I can relate hemp or cannabis to every subject,’ he says, adding that industrial hemp could be a ‘huge earth saver’ for climate change.

The cannabis advocate says hemp doesn’t need the poisons or water that cotton needs but can be more expensive to produce.

Hemp can be used for just about everything, Mr Balderstone says, because ‘it’s got a unique, strong long flexible fibre, much better than cotton’.

‘There’s a famous old hippy saying: we’ve discovered a plant that could save the planet, the only problem is it’s illegal.’

‘Make a mark for law reform’

The senate candidate says housing affordability is one of his particular favourite subjects.

‘I hate that so many people pay rent all their lives while other people own fifty houses,’ say Mr Balderstone.

‘I reckon you shouldn’t have more houses than children.’

But Mr Balderstone’s views don’t necessarily reflect AHP policy and he says if anyone from the party is elected later this month, members will discuss issues besides cannabis as they arise.

‘I don’t really expect anyone to get elected, it’s possible though,’ he says.

‘Make a mark for cannabis law reform, then make a vote for the party of your choice, [that] might be more realistic.’

 

♦ Listen to the interview with Michael Balderstone via Community Newsroom at Bay FM.

Community Newsroom airs on Bay FM 99.9 Fridays, 11am


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Inspector condemns prisoner health services

In the forward to the Inspector of Custodial Services Report published last month, Fiona Rafter Inspector of Custodial Services says that the provision of health services to inmates in New South Wales custodial facilities is a complex and challenging responsibility.

The importance of talking about ovaries

Brother and sister clothing designers Camilla Freeman-Topper and Marc Freeman are, were 11 and 13 respectively when their mother died of ovarian cancer.

Dead rats in the Byron bubble?

Poppa Veet Mayo, Main Arm Am I the only one who can smell a dead rat in this bubble called the Byron Shire? Hear it happened...

Linen SHIFT project urgently needs new home

With a vision to disrupt the cycle of women’s homelessness, the Linen SHIFT project was born to provide unique individual support and education for at-risk women in a safe residential environment, but today they they have been forced to close.