Continuing in the spirit of Cate Speaks

Legalise Cannabis Party

Summary

Website: legalisecannabis.org.au
Social Media: Facebook
Previous Names: Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party
Slogans: Reduce Harm, Create Jobs and Save Money
Themes:
Electorates: Upper House: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia
Lower House: Longman
Preferences: This party is having no truck with How to Vote nonsense. Its official card advises people to put the Legalise Cannabis Party 1 above the line, and then to select at least six parties of their own choice.
Previous Reviews: 20192013

Policies & Commentary

The name’s a bit of a giveaway, right? I mean, a statement doesn’t get more blatant than that. The Legalise Cannabis Party (hereafter referred to as LCP) wants to – you guessed it – legalise cannabis. But this isn’t a simple one-issue party. LCP has done its research, and is presenting voters with arguments spanning from personal freedom to economic benefit. And some of them are pretty convincing.

In the law and regulation arena, LCP calls for an end to arrests and expungement of criminal records for personal cannabis use, as well as reforms that would remove criminal penalties for growing plants. It also wants drug driving laws amended, so that the test of intoxication is impairment rather than a positive result on a test. Obviously, I’m neither a lawyer nor a doctor, but this one seems a little problematic. A series of tests would have to be developed to measure how impaired a person was – and it’s not as simple as walking a straight line. Using a chemical test is a blunt tool, certainly, but it removes the error of subjectivity. Similarly LCP’s call for medicinal use to be able to be used as a defence is complex. Currently, Australia doesn’t have laws that make it an offence to drive while impaired by prescription medication – you’re advised not to, but that’s all. In this situation, it’s reasonable to apply the same standard to cannabis intoxication – however, it begs the question as to whether an overhaul of the entire idea of the medicinal use defence should be undertaken.

LCP points out that legalisation would reduce the burden on law enforcement and the justice system, as well as completely undercut the black market.

Regulation is where we first see evidence of just how thoroughly LCP has explored its central issue. Recognising that much of what it proposes would amount to creating whole new industries, it proposes a state-based licensing system for commercial producers and retail, with an amnesty period for what it calls “grey-market growers.” A separate authority would oversee personal use cannabis and hemp production. There would also be a subsidy program to encourage new businesses, including not-for-profit organisations. Finally, LCP proposes to set up state-regulated testing facilities for every aspect of the process.

In its Health platform, LCP presents a suite of well thought-out policies with a heavy emphasis on education and awareness programs. This would cover everything from medicinal applications, to removing the current stigma attached to cannabis use. Specialised cannabis clinics are on the agenda, as are state-based schemes which would include an equivalent to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Somewhat cheekily, LCP suggests that any revenue from sales could be directed by states into the public health system to improve nurse-to-patient ratios and mental health care training. Of course, it would have no power to enforce this, but putting it out there shows that LCP is aware of potential resistance to its ideas, and is seeking to sweeten the deal.

I should stress the point that LCP is not proposing a ‘let it rip’ approach. Its personal use policies make it clear that cannabis should be treated like alcohol and cigarettes, calling for a plain packaging system, age restrictions on use, and prohibiting advertising. Of these three, the age restriction is the one that sticks out. Historically, one of the loudest arguments against legalised cannabis has been ‘Won’t Someone Think of the Children.’ LCP gets out ahead of this objection nicely.

And then we come to the Economic policies. These are a pleasant surprise. LCP presents excellent initiatives to encourage hemp farming as a “major renewable, sustainable agricultural resource,” both as a primary food crop and as a primary resource for hemp-based products. As a resource, hemp is extraordinarily versatile; it can be used to make a wide variety of products, including clothing, construction materials, water and soil purification, and biofuel. Even the refuse left after harvest would be utilised to aid in the production of methanol. There would be a substantial benefit to the environment from large-scale hemp production, LCP argues.

What we have, then, is a suite of policies that go far beyond what is suggested by the name of the party. LCP is clearly committed to looking beyond the immediate issue of the use of cannabis as a recreational drug, and has a series of proposals that demonstrate the potential benefits of hemp and cannabis for society as a whole. It’s a niche, to be sure, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s a shallow one. LCP is certainly worth preferencing above the, shall we say, more narrow-minded minor parties.


Just a reminder that Loki and I lack the necessary Eurovision knowledge to choose the songs that Catherine liked to include, but we’d love to see what you suggest in the comments below 🙂

6 Comments

  1. DS

    Is there any information available about what they’d do if they held the balance of power? Would they hand control to whichever major party was most likely to provide for their goals, irrespective of any and all other issues, and/or what would they do if/when/after their goals were achieved?

    • Maz Weaver

      They haven’t made any official statements about supporting a particular major party that I can find. The chances are higher that it would support the ALP, given Labor has spoken favourably of decriminalising medicinal cannabis, but that’s pure speculation on my part.

  2. Iestyn

    Firstly I must inform that Wayne Taylor is an acquaintance of mine. He is second on the Victorian Senate Ballot for this party.
    Addressing the Balance of Power issue, the non-Hemp related policies are progressive even if less fully worked out than their main focus. In addition they also have non-THC consumption Hemp policies covering other commercial uses for Hemp, like sustainable sources for building materials and in clothing.

  3. Benjamin Cronshaw

    (Post-election comment) Legalise Cannabis had a wild result, haha. The name change (from HEMP) was probably a good move to make it a clear policy idea.

    And very amusing that they beat the UAP vote in various jurisdictions (namely Queensland). For all the $100 million Clive felt like buying democracy with, he could have bought a bunch of cannabis and given that to people instead, would have made him much more popular.

    • Loki

      It likely would have, but would those people have been able to find their way to the polling place afterwards? 🙂

      • Benjamin Cronshaw

        That is a fair point too. 😉

        As an update, I read it cost them about $32,000 for candidate nominations and maybe $20,000 for campaign expenses (all up 0.5% of the spending of UAP). So far they passed the 4% vote mark in NT and QLD, which gets those candidate deposits back, plus plenty of public funding for their next campaign, haha. All power to them.

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