HEMP Survey of Parties and Local Candidates in the 2019 NSW Election

The HEMP (Help End Marijuana Prohibition) Party is again registered to run in the next federal election. However, HEMP is not re-registered in NSW yet, but wish to advise our members on how to cast their vote.

Since the last NSW election, the federal government has introduced legislation to provide Cannabis for medical purposes ( about 3000 people now legally have access, its very expensive and you are not allowed to drive ). Also our government has finally recognised the nutritional value of Cannabis seeds for human consumption and legalised it.

Canada has introduced a regulated market for recreational use of the herb. The state of California, after twenty years of medical use only, now have a regulated industry and home grown marijuana for recreational use. More than half of America has legal access to Cannabis now.

Would you please answer the following questions. Feel free to write as much as you like as it will be posted on hemp.org.au

1. Do you think an Australian State Government can introduce meaningful Cannabis law reforms without approval from the Federal Government?

1a. Do you think an Australian Federal Government can introduce meaningful Cannabis law reforms within the current international Drug Treaties framework?

2. Do you think sniffer dogs and saliva testing strategies unfairly target Cannabis users and have significantly contributed to Australia’s worsening drug use trends in the past decade?

3. Do you think the State Governments should unite and address Cannabis law reforms through the Australian Federal Government to achieve harmonised Cannabis laws around Australia?

4. Do you think Australians will use ‘legal medical Cannabis’ if they can get similar or better products cheaper and easier from the black market, or grow it themselves?

5. Do you think the current Australian medical Cannabis laws adequately address the needs and concerns of an increasingly significant number of Australians using illicit Cannabis everyday for medical purposes?

6. Do you think there’s any institutional corruption involved in Australia’s $5 billion plus (K Clements, Curtin) illegal Cannabis black market?

7. Do you think drug use should really be treated as a health issue?

8. Do you think the pharmaceutical industry and the police, who both have vested interests, have too much influence in maintaining the war on drugs?

9. Do you think separating Cannabis from the more harmful illegal substances and processed drugs is a sensible immediate approach for legislation?

10. How many Cannabis plants do you think adults should be allowed to grow at home for personal use?

11. Do you think medical Cannabis users should be allowed to drive cars the same as pharmaceutical users?

!2. Do you think saliva testing drivers for zero THC is severely limiting medical Cannabis use and we should be testing for impairment no matter what drugs you have or have not used?

13. Do you know someone who uses Cannabis regularly? And if so, why haven’t you reported them to the Police?

14. Have you ever spoken to the HEMP Party about their long connection, first hand experience and history of advocacy on Cannabis law reform issues?

15. Have you ever used Cannabis?


Survey sent: 11 March 2019

Replies


Hi Michael, here are the answers to your survey questions. Thanks for your patience,
Sue

1. Do you think an Australian State Government can introduce meaningful cannabis law reforms without approval from the Federal Government?

Yes, our state governments can introduce meaningful cannabis reforms. The Greens are calling for the full decriminalisation and legalisation of cannabis. Criminal law and drug law are traditionally the province of the states under the Constitution and the states would be well within their rights to pioneer progressive drug law reform. That is something the Greens would certainly have the courage to initiate and progress through the parliament.

The Howard government did attempt to make this more difficult, by introducing comprehensive domestic drug legislation to try to hamper the states in any attempt at legalisation. It’s therefore theoretically possible for a federal government opposed to legalisation to try to use the constitutional inconsistency provisions to invalidate state legislation that legalise cannabis, like they did in relation to marriage equality laws previously. Nearly seven million Australians or 35% of the population choose to use cannabis and we see this as good reason to institute profound law reform.

1a. Do you think an Australian Federal Government can introduce meaningful Cannabis law reforms within the current international Drug Treaties framework?

The international drug treaties framework was mainly pioneered by the United States, in order to hamstring other countries from being able to legalise cannabis and other psychoactive substances. However there are a number of loopholes within the international drug treaties framework which permit decriminalisation, which permit drug trials and which permit medical use .

The international drug treaties are losing their power as an inhibition on cannabis law reform. This is because the United States itself has introduced meaningful cannabis law reform, including very successful legalisation in a number of states. Portugal and Uruguay have also introduced laws which have been successful, even though they would technically run foul of the international treaty system. What this suggests is the United States has lost its will to be the enforcer of these treaties and countries are at liberty to to take their own paths, particularly in relation to cannabis. It’s for this reason that the Greens have the courage and the foresight to propose the legalisation of cannabis in Australia.

2. Do you think sniffer dogs and saliva testing strategies unfairly target cannabis users and have significantly contributed to Australia’s worsening drug use trends in the past decade?

There is no doubt that the use of sniffer dogs and saliva testing programs have been poorly designed, poorly implemented and have a negative impact on harm minimisation. Sniffer dogs are used inappropriately and cause young people to overdose before entering festivals. The saliva testing program is a stalking horse for zero tolerance probation, rather than a genuine road safety measure. It is not evidence-based or road safety-based and the Greens in New South Wales have a current policy to remove it, until such time as it can be replaced by one based on proper science.

3. Do you think the State Governments should unite and address cannabis law reforms through the Australian Federal Government to achieve harmonised cannabis laws around Australia?

It would be ideal for the states and the Federal governments to unite to achieve harmonious cannabis laws throughout Australia, however history shows that this is very rare in our Federation. The Greens would certainly support this approach. We would also support introducing progressive drug law reform at state, Federal and territory levels, in order to achieve it by the fastest route possible. We have announced our plan, as supported by former Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer, to legalise cannabis for Australians over the age of 18, in a bid to take the drug out of the hands of criminal dealers.

Regulation would ease the strain on law enforcement and enable governments to mandate plain packaging, like we have for cigarettes, with health warnings and consumer product information.

Proof-of-age restrictions on sale, similar to arrangements for alcohol, could help reduce access to cannabis for underage Australians.Government-commissioned guidelines for less risky alcohol consumption have existed for decades. Regulating cannabis would enable government to start commissioning guidelines for less risky cannabis consumption. All advertising of cannabis should be banned from the outset. If possible, donations to political parties from any cannabis industry should be prohibited.

4. Do you think Australians will use ‘legal medical cannabis’ if they can get similar or better products cheaper and easier from the black market, or grow it themselves?

Despite the widespread acceptance of legalised medical cannabis, governments around Australia are failing to establish a proper system for providing it from sources other than the black market or from corporate big Pharma. The Greens being the only party that do not accept corporate donations, including from big Pharma, we are the only party likely to pursue policies that would enable the availability of legal medical cannabis, through small scale farming and smaller scale outlets not associated with the black market or with big Pharma.

5. Do you think the current Australian medical Cannabis laws adequately address the needs and concerns of an increasingly significant number of Australians using illicit Cannabis everyday for medical purposes?

Despite the acceptance of legalised medical cannabis throughout Australia, governments of both major political parties are failing to fast track the availability of legal medical Cannabis and the ability of small-scale non-Pharma non-corporate operators to produce this for the market. As a result, those people desperately in need of medical cannabis are still being forced to access it from the black market. The Greens would support freeing up the production of medical cannabis from small-scale operators and family farmers and would resist the domination of that market by big Pharma.

The Greens would create a regulated industry of cannabis suppliers, leveraging off the frameworks already in place locally for the medicinal cannabis industry, to ensure quality control. This would include specific licensing for various cannabis strains and quality control around the drug’s potency.

6. Do you think there’s any institutional corruption involved in Australia’s $5 billion plus (K Clements, Curtin) illegal cannabis black market?

It would be very naive to think that there was not institutional corruption involved in a $5 billion black market. One of the chief outcomes of drug prohibition is the creation of a black market, organised crime and official corruption, the massive costs to the system, both financially and in terms of ethics of continued cannabis probation are enormous cannabis legalisation would certainly put an end to this part of the corruption derived from probation.

The Greens would institute licensing regimes for cannabis growers and sellers, taking on a similar form as the existing Responsible Serving of Alcohol licence, with sellers being required to pass a test on the issuance of cannabis. The imposition of a tax on sales would ensure that the industry is taken out of the hands of criminals and is properly regulated. The Greens estimate such a regulated industry at bringing in over $2 billion in revenue, a figure corroborated by the Parliamentary Budget Office.Along with that revenue would come significant jobs and business opportunities.

7. Do you think drug use should really be treated as a health issue?

The Greens policy on law reform is aimed at harm minimisation and treats cannabis use as a health issue, not a criminal issue. As independent studies have proved, the impact of cannabis on Australians is dwarfed by the effects of alcohol and tobacco. To the extent that an individual’s drug use is identified by that individual as being problematic, it absolutely should be treated as a personal health and a mental health issue. Regulating the cannabis market would be a primary driver in reducing harm from the criminal activities in the black market and from minimising unhealthy consumption habits.

8. Do you think the pharmaceutical industry and the police, who both have vested interests, have too much influence in maintaining the war on drugs?

Cannabis prohibition and the war on drugs has produced a number of industries reliant upon prosecuting these expensive, unjust and inefficient programs. This includes the pharmaceutical industry, the private prisons industry and to an extent the police. These interests may be financial, through institutionalised corruption and are certainly reliant on the increased powers of personal surveillance and entrapment that are involved in prohibition.

By treating cannabis use as a personal and or medical issue, the focus can be taken away from law enforcement and punitive measures and from the industries that benefit from zero tolerance and prohibition and taken back to a community based and health based harmonisation focus. This is the approach reflected in the Greens policies at both New South Wales and federal level.

We believe the ‘tough on drugs’ approach causes enormous harm, exposing Australia’s seven million users to a dangerous black market. Our plan to create a legal market for cannabis production and sale will reduce the risks, bust the business model of criminal dealers and syndicates and protect young people from unfair criminal prosecutions. Our stance has been welcomed by the president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, Alex Wodak.

9. Do you think separating Cannabis from the more harmful illegal substances and processed drugs is a sensible immediate approach for legislation?

Given the extraordinary number of decades that it has taken to progress the cause for medical cannabis and the legalisation of recreational cannabis, the Greens believe it is necessary to separate cannabis legalisation from other psychoactive substances and treat the two policies as separate enterprises. It may take a very long time to reach a position similar to that of Portugal, which has decriminalised all drug use and treated them successfully as a medical issue.

10. How many Cannabis plants do you think adults should be allowed to grow at home for personal use?

The Greens believe Australians should be able to grow up to six of their own cannabis plants. We would establish a fully controlled market for the sale and production of cannabis and cannabis-related goods.

11. Do you think medical Cannabis users should be allowed to drive cars the same as pharmaceutical users?

Policies in relation to the driving of vehicles whilst affected by pharmaceutical or other therapeutic substances needs to be based on science and evidence and in particular on evidence of impairment. There are a range of other pharmaceuticals that have a much greater and more destructive impact on people’s driving abilities than cannabis, particularly the forms of cannabis that are used therapeutically, so this is an issue that needs to be dealt with by science.

We know that impairment based testing regimes have been implemented successfully in countries, such as Norway, so we have examples to draw on. We are confident that the impairment related to cannabis is far less in most cases than the impairment related to other pharmaceuticals, so a broad based regime that covered all would certainly be a fairer regime. The problem with the current regime is that it is a zero tolerance approach, pretending to be a road safety measure.

12. Do you think saliva testing drivers for zero THC is severely limiting medical Cannabis use and we should be testing for impairment no matter what drugs you have or have not used?

The zero tolerance approach to drug enforcement has proven to be problematic and particularly where it impacts on medicinal cannabis. The current roadside drug testing regime in NSW has nothing to do with improving road safety and is simply an extension of the failed war on drugs.  The Greens have called for an end to roadside drug testing until an evidence based roadside drug testing programme is introduced that actually tests for impairment of all relevant substances rather than simply the presence of the currently limited proscribed drugs.

Data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reveals that NSW Police are disproportionately targeting the Northern Rivers, Sydney’s outer west, the Riverina and Southern Highlands.  The rate of drug driving convictions in the Richmond – Tweed area are the highest in the state, at 470 per 100,000 population – more than five times the NSW average of 92.9. By contrast in Sydney’s wealthy northern and eastern suburbs the rates of conviction are 10-14 times lower than the state average. This reflects lower levels of policing rather than lower levels of drug consumption.The Greens call to repeal and reform roadside drug testing does not apply to roadside breath testing for alcohol, which is evidence-based and effective.

13. Do you know someone who uses Cannabis regularly? And if so, why haven’t you reported them to the Police?

I’ve known many people throughout my personal life who use cannabis. I believe cannabis use to be a personal choice or if identified as a problem by the individual a health issue, not a criminal issue, so it’s not up to me as an individual to turn it into a criminal issue. If I were concerned for that person’s health I might recommend they seek medical attention. I also believe in self determination and the right of people to make up their own minds.  As a lawyer, any issues held in confidence with clients or other members of the public remain in confidence as part of my professional practise.

14. Have you ever spoken to the Australian HEMP Party about their long connection, first hand experience and history of advocacy on cannabis law reform issues?

I’ve been in communication with a number of people from the HEMP Party and Michael Balderstone throughout my activist and legal careers and believe I am well informed about their long history of law reform advocacy.

15. Have you ever used cannabis?

I tried cannabis when I was younger, but it’s not my thing and has not been a part of my life for decades.

Sue Higginson | Greens Candidate for the Seat of Lismore. www.sue4lismore.org.au


Dear Michael,

I appreciate the 15 questions that you have sent to me and all candidates and the conversation we had on this matter yesterday.

The best way I can respond is to summarise some of my already published comments.

Former Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer, three former Police and Assistant Commissioners, former Director of Public Prosecutions, two former heads of Corrective Services, former Premiers Jeff Kennett and Bob Carr, with other concerned and conservative citizens, and they are that, asked the question, “Can Australia respond to drugs more effectively and safely? The third report they have published (Australia 21) says yes. These eminent Australian citizens who have considerable relevant experience to comment, tell us that it is time to act.

They further state and provide evidence that:
Australia’s drug problems have grown steadily worse, and that,
Every day we read stories about illicit drug use with coverage that reflects a widespread anxiety about the threat of illicit drug use to young Australians, but also a growing awareness that we cannot arrest and imprison our way out of this intractable mess.

Labor has made a significant commitment to convene a drug summit patterned on the historic 1999 one to respond to illicit drug use in the community. Its purpose is to undertake a much needed conversation and review, with all key issues on the table. The summit will bring together experts, law enforcement, health professionals, family members and former users to consider evidence-based policy and to develop a way forward that protects lives. The historic 1999 Drug Summit gave rise to the medically supervised injecting room at Kings Cross.

I have had representations from a significant number of local people, with many being senior citizens, who are prescribed cannabis for medicinal use and they are worried about driving, as the offence is presence not impairment. I have agreed to put this and related matters forward to the summit agenda.

I undertake to represent our community perspectives and needs at the Summit.

Janelle Saffin | Country Labor Candidate for Lismore

 


Hi Michael,

My name is Jesse Matheson. I’m one of the candidates for the upper house in NSW. While we have a drug reform policy (See: keepsydneyopen.com/policy), I’ve answered some of your questions here:

1. Do you think an Australian State Government can introduce meaningful Cannabis law reforms without approval from the Federal Government?

Our policy is to legalise cannabis in NSW as part of our larger drug reform policy. We believe this can be done from a State level.

2. Do you think sniffer dogs and saliva testing strategies unfairly target cannabis users and have significantly contributed to Australia’s worsening drug use trends in the past decade?

Yes. I think sniffer dogs are a waste of time and money and that the program should be scrapped.

3. Do you think the State Governments should unite and address cannabis law reforms through the Australian Federal Government to achieve harmonised cannabis laws around Australia?

That would be great!

4. Do you think Australians will use ‘legal medical cannabis’ if they can get similar or better products cheaper and easier from the black market, or grow it themselves?

Difficult to answer. There will most likely always be a black market but providing safe and regulated medical cannabis will improve the quality of life for people who need it due to medical issues.

7. Do you think drug use should really be treated as a health issue?

If the drug use is problematic then yes we believe it should be treated as a health issue. If it’s recreational then we want to ensure people are making informed choices and don’t die. Simple!

8. Do you think the pharmaceutical industry and the police, who both have vested interests, have too much influence in maintaining the war on drugs?

Yes. We have seen this in the pill testing debate with police influence.

9. Do you think separating Cannabis from the more harmful illegal substances and processed drugs is a sensible immediate approach for legislation?

Yes.

11. Do you think medical Cannabis users should be allowed to drive cars the same as pharmaceutical users?

I believe in an evidence-based, impairment-based approached. If the individual is impaired then they should not be behind the wheel. In other words, cannabis users should be treated the same as pharmaceutical users.

!2. Do you think saliva testing drivers for zero THC is severely limiting medical Cannabis use and we should be testing for impairment no matter what drugs you have or have not used?

Yes.

13. Do you know someone who uses Cannabis regularly? And if so, why haven’t you reported them to the Police?

They don’t live in Australia!

14. Have you ever spoken to the Australian HEMP Party about their long connection, first hand experience and history of advocacy on cannabis law reform issues?

No, but happy to have received your message!

15. Have you ever used cannabis?

Yep!


Summary

HEMP Party recommends Greens then Labor after questionnaire

The Greens are outright leaders when it comes to exam results from our questionnaire. Sue Higginson and Tamara Smith sent in detailed carefully thought out answers to our long list of fifteen questions with a clear attitude that drug use is a health issue, Cannabis should be re-legalised and saliva testing should be about impairment.

Labor did pretty well and we appreciated Janelle Saffin promising we would be included in the NSW Drug Summit Labor is to hold before the end of this year if they win the election on Saturday.

The Keep Sydney Open Party sent in sane answers which show they have a good understanding of why the war on drugs needs to end and drug use seen as health issue and not a chance for vested interests like the pharmaceutical giants, police and jail owners to profit from our pain relief.

The Nat’s didn’t bother answering which is a real pity, the old Country Party has lost touch with the Earth.

All responding Parties agreed saliva testing cannabis users driving must be reviewed. This is very important for us as there is currently zero tolerance for cannabis users driving, making it impossible for Australia to introduce a meaningful medical cannabis regime. People who are panicked by the idea of “drug drivers” need to think about the millions who drive everyday with a belly full of pharmaceuticals.

Cannabis is a far safer drug than any other and medical users are safer driving with their medication than without, the same as people using pharma pills to medicate with are safer with their daily dose than without.

Michael Balderstone – HEMP Party President

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