At the 8th Nimbin Mardigrass and Cannabis Law Reform Rally opening ceremony, a newly registered Federal Political Party, HEMP, was announced. The Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party first called for members at the Mardigrass 2 years ago.

It’s taken a while, but we’re finally through all the red tape, said inaugural president Michael Balderstone. And now we hope to register a NSW party for the State Election as well. They’ve made new rules but Mardigrass should get us a few members!

John Howard’s ignorance on drug issues and his choice of guru in the matter, Major Brian Watters from the Salvation Army, is a worry. If only they’d realize the suffering they are creating by resisting reform. This idea of a world without drugs is pure fantasyland. Talk about hippies dreaming! They need to snap out of it, said Michael.

The new party legitimizes our political campaign and our attempts to make the mainstream parties listen to our reform message. In the past we have run as Independents. With the name HEMP on the ballot paper, we expect our Senate candidates preferences to determine the outcome of the final seat in a couple of States.

Some people are wondering why we are bothering with a Federal Party when the cannabis laws are State laws. Historically it has been the Federal Government that has been the promoter of prohibition as the signatory to a number of International treaties (1931 Narcotics Limitation Convention, 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1988 UN Convention Against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances). Our Prime Minister, John Howard, continues to lead the charge with his “tough on drugs” stance.

These treaties were promoted principally by the US Government, which now has over 2,000,000 people in jail! Five million if you include those waiting for trial or on parole! Many of these have been jailed under mandatory sentencing laws which set minimum terms of up to 20 years for certain drug offences. Is this the example we want to follow?

HEMP will be offering an alternative vision to this madness. Many young voters are fed up with the Government’s line on law and order in general and drugs in particular. The PM still thinks that “tough on drugs” is a vote winner. We aim to prove otherwise.

“The HEMP Party has high hopes,” said Mr. Michael Balderstone, the
National President of the HEMP Party and spokesperson for the Nimbin Mardi
Grass. “A vote for HEMP will be a vote to end the war on drugs,” he said.
“A vote for the HEMP Party will be a vote for compassion and for dealing
with drug use as a health issue, not a crime, or a matter of morality,” Mr
Balderstone added.

“We expect to get the youth vote, along with other people disillusioned by
Canberra play school politics”, Mr Balderstone said. “Neither of the major
political parties have the courage to say NO to the US based war on drugs,
which is now reverting Australia to a penal colony” he said. (According
to the Australian Institute of Criminology more than half of the 20,000
prisoners currently in Australian jails are there for drug related

“The idea that the laws are stopping at least some people from taking drugs
is a nonsense.
More than one third of adult Australians have used cannabis.” Mr
Balderstone pointed out, with recent research from Queensland Health
indicating that 58% of year twelve students have done so.

The HEMP Party wants freedom for adults to grow their own Cannabis,
regulation of the Cannabis market, with licensed sales of Cannabis products
to adults, and factual, harm minimising drug education.

HEMP expects to field candidates in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia for both Houses of Parliament at the next Federal election, due late in 2001. To be effective the party needs strong candidates, hence we are seeking expressions of interest from motivated, capable individuals. Apply in writing to the HEMP Party, HEMP Embassy, PO Box 177, Nimbin, NSW 2480.

Further enquiries Nimbin Hemp Embassy 0266 891 842. A/H 0266 897 525

Mr Michael Balderstone,

National President of the HEMP Party

Phone (02) 6689 1123 or (02) 6689 842


HEMP SA: Mr Tony Kneipp,

National Secretary of the HEMP Party

Phone (08) 8357 7360




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    Michael Balderstone also sent the following letter to NSW Special Minister For State, The Hon John Della Bosca, on Monday 22 May;

    Mr Della Bosca,

    We interrupted the weekly Friday HEMP meeting to watch you on Stateline, there was mixed reaction from the public meeting!
    Many of us thought you did well, with your back to the wall, a bit!

    I’m sure we can help and perhaps give you some good points to use.

    Drug use is properly a health issue, really nothing to do with being a criminal, and virtually everyone who has smoked pot knows this. (Today’s NZ statistics indicate 70% have used cannabis by age 21)! No-one wants to see young kids experimenting get a criminal record, or get expelled from school. People take drugs to feel better, or feel good- a fairly natural thing, one would think! And impossible to stop.

    It’s very important to break the link, to separate the drugs, pot and the opium poppy/heroin are totally different plants, as different as the coca plant, kava, coffee, tea and so on – different effects. No-one has ever died from pot, you can’t overdose, you just go to sleep.

    We suspect mental problems are exacerbated by new chemical hydro pot which has now almost taken over the market. (Another consequence of prohibition). Research, even just testing confiscated samples, should be undertaken urgently.

    Deglamourising pot is a real issue, young teens love forbidden fruit. The Amsterdam figures prove this clearly.

    One bad law weakens respect for all laws, which is clearly evident. We weren’t surprised that one in four police tested positive to cannabis in a recent random test, no wonder many good people don’t want to join the Police Service, (leading to present recruiting difficulties). Prohibition has made the work dangerous and the laws are hypocritical. They know drug users are not really criminals, making the job a bit of a farce. The present situation in fact must be more attractive to potentially corrupt characters!

    Prohibition is costing a fortune! It costs $50,000-$70,000 a year to keep someone in jail! We could employ personal social workers to be with people around the clock for that!

    There will always be a small percentage of staunch prohibitionists
    you’ll never convince, however recent surveys show big support for
    cannabis law reform. Public opinion is more ready for change than
    we believe you realise. It’s all over tv these days, in soapies, comedy,
    cop shows etc, debunking “reefer madness”, and the public is quite
    well educated. Latest overseas polls are strongly supportive of a
    move away from criminal penalties, (Last week 65% in Canada, and 61%
    in the Daily Telegraph ‘phone poll in the UK in favour of legal cannabis
    sale and consumption)

    Have a look at MardiGrass media, (including The Today Show) and how
    tv portrayed it – it’s no big deal!

    The Police Association, the AMA, Law Society, social workers, etc, all who work at the coalface and know what’s going on want law reform removing punitive sanctions for drug use.

    We suggest you be confident in the level of public support you have for changes, but it’s important to realise people feel very differently about pot and heroin. If Steve Bracks had put up cannabis first, we believe he would have got unprecedented support. However, although many people may support safe injecting rooms, no-one wants them in their street!

    In Nimbin we are more than ready for cannabis cafes, (similar to the Dutch examples) with even the conservative and business end of town keen to try something. We hear many other communities feel the same way. Quality control and regulated sale of small amounts, for adults only, will keep most people away from the black market where powders and pills are always on offer, being so much easier to conceal. Desperate people, and young innocents, will use anything to ease their pain!

    We appreciate the Labor Party’s efforts, the Drug Summit was a great idea, and we’d love to participate in the June 13-15th Harm Prevention Summit, at NSW Parliament. That’s exactly what we’re about.
    We invite you to visit us in Nimbin, as a field trip to examine the proposed cannabis cafe trial.
    If necessary, we will come to see you in Sydney at your earliest convenience, the June event may be a good time.

    Best wishes,

    Michael Balderstone

    Nimbin Hemp Embassy Spokesperson

    HEMP Party National President


    Press Release 22 May 2000

    Another Sydney Drug Summit

    The 2000 Australian Drug Summit to be held from June 13-15th in the NSW Parliament is enthusiastically welcomed by the Nimbin Hemp Embassy, who would like to be involved to ensure it’s a fair discussion, with all sides of the community represented.

    “It’s a very good idea for people to get together and talk about the drug problem in the open”, said Don Fuggle, Secretary of the National HEMP Party. “If we are invited you can be assured of our attendance.” he said.

    The Summit will have the theme, ” Promoting Drug Harm Prevention in Australia”, and plans to bring together individuals and groups committed to harm prevention for drug reform, (their words not ours!) to comment on how prevention can be better managed.

    We are excited that MP for Monaro Mr Peter Webb’s reported objectives include the promotion of immediate strategies for true drug law reform, treatment, rehab and education.
    He says, “Special emphasis will be given to research based evidence on present drug policies and their effectiveness”, and we have a lot of evidence we would like the opportunity to present.

    There will also be discussion on the ways media, community groups, institutions and individuals can be better informed and educated, which is exactly what we are about.

    For further information, contact;
    Michael Balderstone
    HEMP EMBASSY 0266891842 AH: 0266897525

    The Summit will be invitation only, but individuals and community groups interested in it can phone Jill Pearman on
    02 95603899 or 0413112679 for further information.

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