Australia: HEMP Party Calls For Cannabis To Be Legalized
By Steve Elliott
Australia's HEMP Party -- Help End Marijuana Prohibition -- launched its election campaign on Monday, calling for cannabis to be legalized for personal and medical use, as it is now for industrial purposes.
Members of HEMP inflated a 33-foot plastic replica of a joint outside the state police commissioner's office in Sydney, reports Stuart McDill for Reuters. Activists said Australia's jails were "overflowing" with people criminalized for no good reason.
"America has given us huge encouragement," HEMP president Michael Balderstone said. "Half of America now has access to medical cannabis and now they've started to get new regulations for recreational cannabis. So, you know, the wall is down there and no big deal, the place hasn't gone crazy."
Cancer patient Jenn Lea handed out HEMP Party leaflets to amused office workers enjoying the lunchtime sunshine in a city park. The leaflets call for Parliament to end what Lea called discrimination against cannabis users.
Lea, a mother of three who has breast cancer, said she would not be alive if not for cannabis oil, and said she only wants to be able to buy it without breaking the law.
"Disgusted at my country but I'm proud that I've finally taken some initiative and I'm fighting for my rights to medicate," Lea said. "I want to live. I don't want to be put off in some respite center to die. I'm 35. I have children. I want to be there."
The HEMP Party is fielding a dozen candidates from six states in the Australian federal election on September 7, including herbalist B.J. Futter of New South Wales, who says marijuana legalization is inevitable.
"I understand that we are not going to get elected this time round," Futter said. "My hope is that we shake the foundations of those that are in power. This plant will be legalized. It's just a matter of when."
Industrial hemp is legal to grow with a license in Australia, but the HEMP Party wants to extend that to marijuana consumers by regulating cannabis sales and removing pot's criminality. The party also wants to establish a commercial hemp industry producing fuel, oil and other environmentally friendly products.
(Graphic: HEMP Party of Australia)