STORY EDITOR: Heather Allman
PUBLISHER: CANNABIS LAW REPORT
Cannabis Activists Deliver Half A Million Dollars To Parliament House To Demonstrate Wasted Money
A group of cannabis activists have presented half a million dollars to parliament house to draw attention to the huge amounts of money lost from current cannabis legislation.
The collective of artists and advocates, accompanied by two armed security guards, attended Parliament House in Canberra with $420,000 worth of crisp green $100 notes. This amount represents a portion of the daily excise Australians are losing due to prohibition and is a nod to 420, a day celebrated by Cannabis consumers worldwide.
View the playlist for Who are we hurting’s prior protests here
Recent data revealed by the Australian Greens indicate billions of dollars of potential tax revenue from cannabis are being lost annually, money that could be spent on roads, hospitals and schools.
Colorado earned more than $260 million in tax revenue in 2016 after it sold more than $1.7 billion worth of marijuana, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.
A spokesperson for the activists, known as Who Are We Hurting? said:
“Although achieving great success since initiating our annual protests over 5 years ago, we haven’t come far enough. We have seen different states adopting different changes, such as here in Canberra where you can grow your own, or the laws coming into effect in Victoria which will see a need for impairment to be proved before a medical cannabis patient can be prosecuted for drug driving, revolutionising our out-dated driving legislation.”
NSW Court magistrate David Heilpern resigned in 2020 citing drug driving laws are so ‘grossly unfair’ he can’t apply them. Since then Heilpern’s team have initiated a drive change campaign with Honahlee organisation to overhaul Australia’s drug driving legislation.
Jenny Hallam, the representative for the performance art piece, is a South Australian cannabis oil advocate that was spared conviction in 2019 for producing and supplying medicinal cannabis to terminally ill people.
“Cannabis has been saving lives for years and now it can save the economy” Says Jenny
The original Who Are We Hurting team consists of artists from The Craze Collective and athletes from Ballin’ On A Budget. They have been responsible for a number of large-scale cannabis installations and publicity stunts on April 20 for the past five years.
Last year they offered Prime Minister Scott Morrison a “peace offering” by delivering a pound of weed to his Kirribilli House in celebration of the beginning of 4/20/2,0 and to campaign for the legalisation of cannabis in Australia.
Spokesperson Craze explains that the group wants to publicise discourse around cannabis in Australia, and requests that the government “replace this organised crime with legitimate employment”.
“The sad fact is everybody knows that cannabis isn’t nearly as bad for people as, say, alcohol or cigarettes. But no-one wants to talk about it because it has such a stigma.”
“We’re just hoping to get people talking as we feel that Cannabis can help with anxiety during these troubling times as well as offer additional jobs to help the post-economic effects of this world-wide crisis”
It is important to recognise that the instigators behind the stunt executed it in a way that strictly adhered to social distancing advice and restrictions. These are activists with a moral backbone.
Who Are We Hurting have been executing stunts like this over the past five years. In 2017 the collective leased a shopfront in The Cross and displayed a hydroponic ‘grow’ setup with faux cannabis plants, which led to a police investigation. In 2018, they positioned a bunch of fake weed plants throughout Sydney city. In 2019 they erected a 9-metre tall cannabis statue in Martin Place. The slacker vigilantes we deserve.
Former Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the “war on drugs has failed” and called for the establishment of an Australian Cannabis Agency that would be given a monopoly over the wholesale supply of the drug to shops, while collecting millions of dollars in a tobacco-style tax from consumers.
“Governments around the world are realising that prohibition of cannabis causes more harm than it prevents,” the former GP who worked in drug and alcohol addiction said.
“It’s time Australia joined them and legalised cannabis for adult use.”
“It may not appear to be much, but this is how much Australians are losing each day, more than half a million dollars a day, or $2 billion annually.” said Richard Di Natale
The Australian government has plans to become the world’s biggest supplier of medical cannabis as reported by ABC political reporter Stephen Dziedzic on News Breakfast from Parliament House.
The vice president of the Australian Medical Association Tony Bartone said the AMA did not support the personal use of cannabis and had “significant reservations” about the proposal to allow people aged over 18 to use the drug.
“There is the importance of the developing brain, the Colorado model is 21-years-old,” he said.
“We have considerable concerns about the risk for the young brain and the possibility of bringing on psychosis, especially in the younger age group.”
But he said the AMA believed that criminal penalties should not be brought against users, echoing sections of the Greens policy.
“The courts are clogged with people [on drugs charges],” he said. “We see recreational use of cannabis as a health issue not a criminal issue.”
More than 75,000 people are arrested each year for cannabis related offences, making up the largest proportion of illicit drug crimes according to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
Drug driving testing makes up a large portion of these offences.
“This has become a de facto means of drug testing all citizens, and they’re doing it through licensing,” said Mark Davis, Principal of Sydney City Crime. “There’s no onus on the police to prove these people were affected by drugs in anyway, but you still have hundreds of people ending up with criminal convictions – even for trace elements in their system.”
President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation Alex Wodak said banning cannabis hadn’t stopped people using it, had distracted police and helped make some criminals rich.
“Regulating cannabis will give the government more control and increase government revenue, which can be used to fund drug prevention and treatment,” Dr Wodak said.
The Australian Federal Police declined to comment on the law-enforcement challenges of the proposal.
Who Are We Hurting have been executing stunts like this over the past six years. In 2017 the collective leased a shopfront in The Cross and displayed a hydroponic ‘grow’ setup with faux cannabis plants, which led to a police investigation. In 2018, they positioned a bunch of fake weed plants throughout Sydney city. In 2019 they erected a 9-metre tall cannabis statue in Martin Place, in 2018 they placed 100s of prop cannabis plants throughout the greater Sydney area and in 2017 they set up a fake mock up of a hydroponic grow house in a shop front on one of Sydney’s busiest streets.. The slacker vigilantes we deserve!
2021 Who are we hurting? Team @thecrazeco @ballinonabudget @crazeske @willysworldtv @jenny_hallam @chroniclesofchristie @710at420 @avert_bags
Huge thanks to our sponsors 710@420 and Avert Bags for making this possible!
Media assets will be uploaded to this google drive folder as it becomes available (updates expected throughout April 20th) – 420 2021 Public Folder Who Are We Hurting
View the playlist for Who are we hurting’s prior protests here – Who are we hurting? 420 Cannabis Protests Australia