6 June 2016
Writing for the Age Melbourne..Fiona Patten MP has plenty to say about the state of marijuana legalization in Australia……..and most of it not very encouraging
I think I am the only member of parliament in Australia to acknowledge my recreational use of cannabis. In fact, I have enjoyed the many blessings that cannabis can bestow for a lot of my adult life and have not lost my mind or become a serial killer.
Indeed, I became a politician and some have even said I would not have been elected without it!
Jokes aside, I’m declaring my usage or non-usage of cannabis, just so everyone knows where I’m coming from. This debate would be far more informative if every journalist, every politician and every commentator on the subject of cannabis law reform did the same, instead of hiding their drug use, drug abuse or their non-use in the closet.
At the coming federal election, it is painfully clear now that none of the major parties want to see recreational cannabis legal in Australia. Neither Liberal, Labor nor the Greens has a policy that would in any way suggest they are looking at legalising Australia’s most popular illicit drug in the near future.
However, over the past year, they have all fallen over themselves to legalise medicinal cannabis. Barnaby Joyce and Bruce Baird have joined forces and sat by the bedsides of ailing patients, assuring the TV cameras that they are pulling out all stops to have it legalised. It’s a fake agenda.
None of them has any intention of making this happen soon and all the legislative promises are simply a smokescreen to hide the fact that they are basically old style Scotch and Coke drinkers and they don’t believe in hippy medicine for a moment … unless they think they can win votes with it in marginal seats. Then they’ll say anything.
Even the Greens are back-pedalling. At the end of March, 2016, the Greens in Victoria voted to not allow medical cannabis to be available to sick and suffering adults. That’s right. They voted only to allow medicinal cannabis to be available to children with specific forms of epilepsy. Nothing else.
This all came about as part of the debate in the Victorian Parliament to set up Australia’s first regulatory system for the manufacturing, distribution and use of medicinal cannabis.
When I saw that the bill was so limited in its application as to be almost useless, I drafted an amendment. This was to make medicinal cannabis available to the same patient cohort that the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) had recommended be granted access.
It included patients suffering from severe pain, severe nausea, severe vomiting or severe wasting, resulting from cancer or HIV/AIDS; patients suffering from severe muscle spasms or severe pain from multiple sclerosis or epilepsy where other drugs have been proven ineffective or have intolerable side effects. And to patients who suffer from chronic pain and who two specialist doctors have certified in writing that medicinal cannabis would provide better pain management than other treatment options.
The Greens voted with the Labor and Liberal parties against my amendment.
Why would a party that tells us they are leading the debate in the Federal Parliament on medicinal cannabis decide to prohibit all adults in Victoria who would be assisted by medicinal cannabis the right to access it?
The reasoning they gave was that there was not enough cannabis to supply everyone who would want it. Really? That justification in itself means we should be redoubling our efforts. But it’s not hard to grow. And if Victoria can grow medicinal cannabis to supply kids with epilepsy, they can grow it for all the adults who need it. If they can’t there are hundreds of growers who can.
The VLRC interviewed a number of cannabis growers in preparing their submission to the Victorian Parliament including one of the nation’s best-known growers, Tony Bower from Mullaways. They even took his products and tested them. He told me that he never got the results but would really have liked them. So would the community.
Marijuana (HEMP) Party candidate and long-time advocate for medicinal cannabis Andrew Kavasilas says that there are tens of thousands of people in Australia accessing high-quality, medicinal cannabis right now. So someone’s supplying it and it’s not Monsanto or Chemist Warehouse.
Personally, I know quite a few people who are buying and using medicinal cannabis to manage pain instead of going for opiates.
So why are the Greens going soft on the issues of medicinal and recreational cannabis?
The party that said they would legalise medicinal cannabis in the Federal Parliament a year ago has done little to actually make this fly. All they’ve done is change the voting laws to get rid of minor parties like Sex and HEMP who are all about legalising medicinal and recreational cannabis. Instead of gaming the voting system they should have focused on cannabis, marriage equality and getting an emissions trading scheme in place.
Fiona Patten is leader of the Australian Sex Party and a Victorian upper house member
Fiona Patten Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiona_Patten