Is Australia ready for federal cannabis legalization?
Perhaps not in its entirety, but progress is happening, especially after this past Saturday's general elections when a center-left opposition party toppled the conservative government after almost a decade in power.
Often adult-use legalization happens in states/countries that have already allowed medical marijuana programs, such as the case of the Land Down Under.
Legalise Cannabis Australia, a single issue minor party, is running seventh in a six-seat Senate race, reported Australia's ABC News. With 34% of the vote counted, Legalise Cannabis Australia acquired 74,972 Senate votes, which is almost 5% higher than in 2019.
The party’s candidate Bernard Bradley seems to be very close to nabbing the sixth Senate seat, having pulled ahead of popular minor party candidates like Clive Palmer and Campbell Newman. Furthermore, the party has probably already secured AEC funding because it has managed to suppress 4% of the Senate count in Queensland.
The state of Queensland had seen more than 130,000 applications for medical marijuana over the last five years.
Party president Michael Balderstone said that changing the name of the party (previously it was called Help End Marijuana Prohibition or HEMP) helped it get more votes in this year's race. Nevertheless, Balderstone said that getting people to publicly advocate is still hard.
"Not many people want to wave their arm around and say, 'Yeah! Yeah! I smoke weed!' whereas, you know, old hippies like me from Nimbin, it's expected of us," he said. "Generally, most of our candidates were genuine medical cannabis users and people on the ground who are campaigning have got a strong passion."
The central efforts of Legalize Cannabis 2022 campaign are focused on pain relief and the cost of medical marijuana.
The party would also push for enabling the cultivation of marijuana across the country, and now most of it comes either from Canada or is personally grown indoors.
"We could all be growing our own medicine, Balderstone said.
Balderstone added that the party’s key goals include education and destigmatization of the plant.
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