16 September 2016
Vice reported late yesterday
Fiona Patten, MP for the Australian Sex Party and vocal recreational marijuana user, introduced a motion into Victorian Parliament yesterday, calling for the legalisation of marijuana in the state. Unfortunately, it was voted down—32 votes against, and only six in favour. Despite the landslide, Patten remains hopeful debate around the issue will continue.
“I am probably the only leader of a political party in Victoria who has admitted to occasionally smoking marijuana for personal use, but in that respect I am no different to half a million Victorians who regularly or occasionally enjoy a smoke or a vape,” she said in parliament on Wednesday.
“But we are still discriminated against; we are still considered pariahs; we still face heavy fines or even jail sentences for indulging in what I consider to be a pretty harmless and very widespread practice.”
Patten’s motion called on the Victorian Government to “immediately remove any criminal and civil sanctions for the possession, use and cultivation for personal use of cannabis by persons aged 18 and over,” lift prohibitions on weed paraphernalia like bongs, and allow farmers to apply for weed growing licences.
The Sex Party leader argued legalising weed would have enormous economic benefits for Victorians, telling parliament the state’s agriculture is perfectly suited to cultivation of cannabis. “Victoria could be the mull bowl of the world, we have a beautiful climate,” Patten said. “We already have a community spending close to a billion dollars a year on this product… If this was any other industry… we would be flying, fighting for it.”
Patten also told parliament it made sense to loosen restrictions on cannabis use because one third of Victorians admit to using, or having used, the drug. In some age groups there were more people smoking marijuana than tobacco. She suggested that many other MPs would have experience with the drug, too.
“I’m kind of guessing that probably about a third of people in this chamber may have at one stage, maybe not inhaled, but may have at one stage tried some cannabis,” she said.
The issue of cannabis-related arrests also clogging Victoria’s court system was also raised, with Patten citing the 2,600 cannabis-related arrests over the past year.
Unfortunately for the Sex Party, recreational weed smokers, and the state’s economy, Patten was immediately shut down by Victoria’s Minister for Families and Children, Jenny Mikakos. “It is important to say at the outset that the Andrews Labor government will not be supporting the Australian Sex Party’s motion to legalise cannabis and does not have any plans to decriminalise cannabis for recreational use,” Mikakos said. She went on to cite the “significant health impacts” associated with cannabis use.
While they’re apparently not fans of a casual joint between friends, Victorian MPs are still probably the most weed-friendly in the country—the state’s first medicinal marijuana crop will be harvested and dispensed to young epilepsy patients next year. Of course medicinal marijuana, when it hits the market, will be heavily regulated.
“Recreational cannabis use and cannabis that is used for medicinal purposes are two very different things,” Mikakos said.
Hansard: Victorian State Parliament 14 Sept 2016
A full reading of the debate is well worth the read as it indicates the current political thinking throughout Australia and here at CLR we’d suggest the uphill struggle the campaign will have with regard to the major political parties and entrenched big alcohol interests which is as always the elephant in the room in Australia