CLR Interview: Dr Brian Walker, West Australia’s Second Cannabis Senator

A couple of weeks back we spoke with  Sophia Moermond who won a West Australian Senate seat standing for the  Legalise Cannabis WA Party.

The first ever standalone cannabis election success in Australian politics, see the interview here

 

Interview: Sophia Moermon, West Australian Senator For The Legalize Cannabis WA Party

 

Interview: Sophia Moermon, West Australian Senator For The Legalize Cannabis WA Party

Well it wasn’t a one off. After another week of recounts it transpires that the party had won another seat in the Senate. This time the seat was won by Dr Brian Walker a medical cannabis advocate and medical practitioner.

 

Dr Brian Walker, Sophie Moermond

 

We have already published a short profile of Dr Walker( see below) but thought we should hear from him too on all things cannabis legalization and regulation in Australia.

West Australia Becomes “Weed Australia”! As Legalise Cannabis Win 2nd Seat In State’s Upper House

 

Congratulations on winning a seat in the West Australian Senate standing for the Legalise Cannabis WA Party. How does it feel to be a proper political party with 2 members in the state’s Senate… beyond your widest dreams?

I feel that we are in the right place at the right time, and that the universe has moved us to be right where we are supposed to be. My wildest dreams focus more on our aims for equality, freedom and fairness for all, a restructuring of society that allows us to appreciate everyone, value everyone, and for all here to be respectful of the rights and responsibilities of all.

 

Can you give our readers a little bit of background about yourself and as a Doctor what was it that led you towards medicinal cannabis?

I knew from the age of 13 that I wanted to be a healer. Shortly after qualifying I realised that orthodox medicine may be excellent, but it is woefully inadequate at identifying root causes of wellness. In fact, wellness was not even a concept in medicine. It was all about identifying disease, and treating disease. It is, in fact, a sickness service, not a health service. Cannabis is a healthful healing ,  indeed a sacred herb, and needs to be valued and respected. The European approach to natural medicine is much more accepting of the value of nature, and it was in Germany where I discovered that different aspect of medicine. Since then I have been seeking alternative solutions, answers to the questions I asked. Someday I will find a few answers.

 

As you are aware the Australian medical community is still very conservative when it comes to medical cannabis. Here at CLR we are somewhat wary of medical cannabis clinics that are also part of vertically integrated cannabis companies who may also grow and process the plant. To us that would be the same as having Pfizer medical clinics only selling Pfizer products and would much prefer that cannabis is dealt with as much as possible with the existing GP and other clinics networks already in existence.

 

I regard such clinics as nothing more than an orthodox mindset occupying the space of a drug dealer.

 

 

 

Do you see as part of your remit as an elected official for cannabis in WA to try and bring the wider community on board ?

Absolutely. Cannabis is more a symbol. A symbol that needs to be recognised. Think of the symbols of – say – nuclear disarmament, Sea Shepherd, even the Red Cross. We need to see the cannabis symbol as something which unites us as a tribe. We, the tribe, seek social justice, peace, freedom. The right to housing, the right to be different and accepted as well. We seek the healing of the world from the evils which we see piling up. This symbol needs to be our light, or flag, behind which we as a nation can unite.

 

What are your views on vertically integrated cannabis companies and their command of the chain of supply of medical cannabis in Australia ?

I think we need to be free to cultivate our own cannabis, much as we cultivate our own backyard vegetables. Placing power in the hands of big pharma leads to disempowerment of the people.

 

Would you hope to present draft legislation to the WA legislature to address these issues ?

Certainly. But you have to remember that the process is one of a move, a shift in direction. Just like a supertanker can not slalom its way through a minefield, we need to ease our change of path. There is a huge community that has the inertia of ignorance, and moving that ignorance will take time.

 

 

Sophia indicated the CLR that the party fully supports the legalisation of recreational cannabis across the board? As a member of the medical community that is a fairly rare position to support. Can you let us know what led you to this point and  how you might work to get that point across to the medical profession, politicians and the wider community?

Recreational alcohol can be devastating. It is devastating. Ditto recreational tobacco. Recreational cannabis is safer than both of those permitted recreational activities. It makes sense from a medical perspective. But I could talk about that for hours.

 

I note that a large part of your platform in W.Australia talks about the decriminalisation and regulation of cannabis to try and reduce the inequality of enforcement of cannabis on WA Australia’s indigenous community. Is Cannabis legalisation WA already putting out feelers to the state’s indigenous communities and bodies to work out how that may be done

Yes!  We are looking now at precisely what steps we can take to right the injustice currently experienced by the indigenous communities. I think the first step is to actually listen to what the communities, and in particular the elders, have to say.

 

Are you looking at existing equity models in the US and in Canada to look for ways to achieve these goals ?

The Canadian approach may be better but is still woefully short of the mark. Perhaps we can show them a better path? But we can also begin the conversation with the US and Canada to see what we can learn from them, and how it might benefit all Australians

 

Here at CLR we believe that along with sensible regulation of cannabis both for medical and recreational use what is also needed is a sensible and fair  set of rules and regulations for creating an economic cannabis sector in Australia that talks about the issue not only state by state and nationally  but also looks at how the sector could work in regional and rural areas and well as urban areas. At the moment all we see is a great deal of rules being put in place by the Federal government so that only a few can take advantage of the “cannabis economy”

A specific model for medicinal cannabis appears to have been devised that forces operators to go public and create a export market after pumping large sums of money into  government quangos, favoured universities and “research centres”

Agreed

 

What policy positions with regard to cannabis sector business will the party be proposing?

That is a difficult question to answer. Short answer is that we are looking at the situation, and determining our policies and positions. As said, we need to listen first – listen to those with whom we agree and also with those who oppose us. There is much to be learned.  My gut feeling is that we need to permit everyone to grow cannabis in their own premises, backyards, farms etc. Free up the small business development – tourism of cannabis, products made of hemp, medicinal approaches such as cannabis infused honey … let small business growth determine the direction. But that is just my take, and I have not looked at this in all seriousness with Sophia yet. We also need to link up with our Legalise Cannabis colleagues in other states (Reason Party – I am looking at you too!)

 

Do you think there is a place for co-operative entities?

Yes

 

Should companies be allowed to be vertically integrated thus controlling the seed to sale process or should  different types of companies be allowed to operate in the space according to their existing skills

I have no opinion on that yet. My feeling is that we should be free to choose the business opportunity that best fits our needs, so there should be room for a wide set of skills to be demonstrated.

 

Do you have a view about experienced foreign players operating in the market ?

Welcome to all who have skills and experience. Provided, of course, that  those with such skills do not seek to overpower, control or manipulate our sovereign rights
At the moment Australia has, we’d suggest, put itself in the back seat with the cannabis and hemp industries from which we have seen internationally a growth in the CBD industry and soon to come CBG.  As well as compounds like Delta 8 THC. It is likely that there will be many more compounds that can become industry sectors on themselves in the coming years.

 

Do you think Australia needs to catch up before being left behind .. or that we should carry on at the pace that we have

Very much agree. The science on the multitude of terpenes is a fertile area. We are at the beginning of the scientific discoveries, and I find it exciting. Australia needs to grasp the opportunities because – frankly – the economic advantages of leading the way in cannabis are huge.

 

Sophia mentioned that she hadn’t really gauged support for the party from the liberals and labor in West Australia. What are your thoughts on bringing other politicians to the table on cannabis both from the major parties and the other smaller parties. Do you think WA has created an opportunity here that doesn’t exist in the rest of the country?

I think over 50% of politicians have tried cannabis. By removing the stigma of “druggies on weed” – and we do this by constant repetition and education – we can move people to recognise what is true, rejecting the myths. Here in WA we are in an excellent position to do this. We are also in the excellent position of being able to offer our services to all of our fellow-travellers in Australia, our colleagues and supporters in the states and territories of Australia.

 

I’ve asked plenty of questions … so I’d like to leave the last to you. Is there anything CLR hasn’t raised that you think our readers should be aware of with regard to what you and the party hope to achieve moving forward in WA

Here in WA we are on the cusp of success. We are focused on using the cannabis symbol to illustrate not just cannabis, but the whole psychosocial aspect of health and wealth in society. Homelessness, injustice, safety of women, care of children, security of life … let us raise the bar and look at claiming our tribe. We are the people.

 

Thankyou Dr Walker

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