The Sickening Hypocrisy of our Cannabis Laws
‘Excuse me sir.’ I had fallen asleep in a park, under the cool shade of a huge fig tree and I was being shaken awake by a policeman. Apparently, the park was closing and I had to leave. So, I stood up, gathered up my stuff and turned towards the entrance.
‘Is that your cannabis, sir?’ The policeman was now pointing to a small wooden bowl and a clear plastic packet, sitting by the side of one of the buttress roots of the fig. At once I felt a familiar rush of adrenaline. I had been half-asleep, now I was suddenly wide-awake.
However, the copper was quite evidently just concerned that I had forgotten my weed. I laughed and thanked him profusely. It was only a small packet of ‘Blueberry Haze’, but it was an unforgettable toke and I would have been upset to have lost it.
No – this is not a fantasy. This happened to me only a month ago; in Thailand.
If this same had happened in Australia, the policeman would not have been as polite and I would have been unlikely to have had a pleasant afternoon. But, as I was in Thailand, I immediately felt safe. In this instance the policeman was actually trying to help me, not destroy my life. This is because, seven months prior to this encounter, the Thai Kingdom had entirely legalised cannabis use.
As I am extremely interested in cannabis law reform, I have been following the development of this entirely laissez-faire approach closely, as this represents the first time a large country has approached the regulation of cannabis in an appreciably rational fashion. As I write, in Thailand, if you are more than twenty years old and are not pregnant or breast feeding, you can grow, buy, sell, and consume as much cannabis as you want. There are virtually no other regulations.
The authorities in Thailand looked at all the available information regarding cannabis and decided that there was little or no harm associated with cannabis use. In other words, they were brave enough to acknowledge the facts. And since the only appreciable harm associated with cannabis seemed to be caused by its either being illegal or difficult to obtain, instead of setting up a huge administrative and regulatory apparatus to oversee a legal market in cannabis, the Thai authorities simply removed all the criminal penalties and left it to the commercial marketplace. Just like any other largely harmless product.
Seven months into this experiment in actual (not phony) legalisation, I arrived in Bangkok to tour the industry and search for any ‘harms’ that might be evident. After all, in dozens of western world countries, governments have been expending huge amounts of taxpayers’ funds on protecting the public from the danger of an unrestricted marketplace in cannabis. But now, in Thailand, there was at last a jurisdiction that could be compared to these many other highly restricted marketplaces. Consequently (I reasoned), if cannabis is now freely available in Thailand, then surely all of the ‘harms’ that we in the western world are being sheltered from would be in evidence.
Which is to say, if the moralists and anti-cannabis crusaders in the west are correct, now that there is an unrestricted marketplace of cannabis in Thailand, there will have been a huge rise in instances of mental illness, also a massive tidal wave of immorality and illegality. Additionally, the youth in the Kingdom will have begun flocking to cannabis cafes in flagrant disregard of the law, probably losing their religion along the way. So, I had arrived in Thailand to document all of the ‘harms’ that had befallen the country due to the free availability of cannabis.
As I am an academic, I wanted to make sure that I was talking to a representative sample of Thai citizens, so I designed my research project to ensure that this was the case. The ‘20/20 Project’ project asked the same twenty questions about the cannabis marketplace in Thailand, but asked a range of different people, including policemen, shopkeepers, health professionals, government officials, as well as growers, smokers and sellers of weed.
So, what were the many undesirable outcomes that were reported?
Nill. None. Nada. Zilch.
Not a single person who was approached and asked about the cannabis marketplace in Thailand could identify a single appreciable ‘harm’ that had resulted from the change in the law. Whereas they reported many appreciable benefits. The commercial sector has been boosted. The police have far more money to spend while policing a populace who have far more respect for them. In later reports I will discuss these many benefits in close detail, but for the purposes of this short article all that needs to be noted is that there were no appreciable harms.
So why is our government (amongst other western world governments) proposing to spend a fortune in restricting access to cannabis and suppressing a free marketplace in the herb? What ‘harms’ are these people protecting us from?
It is no longer feasible for a politician to argue that cannabis is dangerous or that a free marketplace in cannabis has deleterious effects. We have been lied to by the authorities for decades. Authorities that continue to argue that they have to deem cannabis illegal and spend a huge amount of taxpayer funds in restricting access to cannabis FOR OUR OWN GOOD. This is a blatant lie and can no longer be tolerated in the public forum.
It is time to end the hypocrisy. It is time to simply no longer tolerate all the lies being told in the public square. Cannabis is harmless. Cannabis is fully legal and available elsewhere in the world and there has been no break down in morality. There have been no negative health or social effects reported – period.
Stop spending my money on protecting me from imaginary harm. The only harm associated with cannabis is the unwarranted meddling of the police in lives of otherwise happy people and the expenditure of huge amounts of money for no apparent reason.
If you don’t want me to smoke weed then I will agree – as soon as you ban all other recreational drugs. Until then you can take your hypocrisy and shove it where the sun don’t shine.
Free the weed: VOTE #1 LCA (Legalise Cannabis Australia).
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both cannabis and hemp have suffered enormously from the misinformation promulgated mainly by the cotton industry in an effort to supplant the competition and the evangelical churches to control and vilify the predominantly black population that used the social drug…
now we are caught in a situation where after years of being lied to, the liars are reticent to admit to their calumny
and the good old US of A still propounds the myth of cannabis harm despite several states decriminalising the product with only positive results
legalisation would free the courts, end discrimination against users, enable the police to be accepted as custodians of the law instead of abusers of the poor and make us a better country
Cannabis was vilified by US chemical corporations wanting to make a place for ”plastic” products like nylon in the fabrics business during the 1940s. Hemp was necessary for marine ropes so Pakistan was excluded from the government ban. However, hemp as a fabric was vilified to pressure consumers to purchase nylon products.
The medicinal effects of low THC Cannabis have long been recognised and there are reports of considerable pain control from using weed as either smoked or oil.
The development of drug control empires within governments inhibited a true evaluation of cannabis, especially the early control of cannabis sales by local police.
Now there are about 20 states raising considerable millions as excise from legalised cannabis. Indeed, the market is considered so attractive that many corporations are gearing up to produce and sell the cannabis.
By legalising the production and sale of cannabis likely through registered growers and retail outlets, the huge cost of drug control is minimised and replaced with revenue for important community services like education, hospitals and roads.
In 2019 while living in Lismore and making the weekly visit to Nimbin to purchase cannabis, a plant with which I’d been in intimate relationship since 1974, I got busted at a police setup at Goolmangar, a miniscule village on the road between the two locations. I had a bag of weed in the car, and had just had a smoke.
The car was searched, the weed consficated, I was bodily searched in full view of the passing traffic, and then subjected to a prolonged session in a roadside lab vehicle where I had to suck on a swab for a long time in order for the oral saliva to impregnate the swab, which was eventually sent to a laboratory for a confirmation of the presence of THC in my system. When asked why I was in possession of marijuana, I said it was for personal use to combat the effects of childhood abuse, the always ever presence of PTSD. This reply was met with indifference by the police, who seemingly had no interest in the whys and wherefores of the fact of my possession, merely that I was in possession meant that I was in breach of the law.
The consequences of this breach were that I was fined $578 for driving under the influence, that as a second offence – I’d earlier, in 2015, been busted at a Sydney train station with a half-smoked joint in my briefcase, bloody sniffer dogs – I was required to have a tele-consultation with a drug counselling service, and six months after the interface with NSW’s finest, I received a letter from the RMS stating that I was now suspended from driving for six months due to that offence… a ruling that I subsequently appealed at the Lismore Court and was successful, remarkably and totally against the statistical outcomes of such appeals.
All of this against a background of having been a constant user of cannabis for forty-five years and having driven tens of thousand of kilometres without issue whilst ‘under the influence’.
Not that it matters, but I quit smoking, brown & green, more than a year ago. Nevertheless, the only thing I can add is that old saw, that the law is an ass. The former Lismore magistrate David Halpern observed that in his time in that role, he saw thousands of people in similar circumstances to those I encountered, and was forced by virtue of the existing legislation to impose the statutory penalties on those individuals knowing full well the difficulties he was forcing into their lives vis-a-vis licence suspensions, loss of jobs, social restrictions, relationship difficulties, personal emotional & mental health difficulties, and yet he was hamstrung by the existent laws in place. Eventually he quit, his conscience no longer able for him to continue.
It’s time to change…
Abso- bloody- lutely.
We sell alcohol and cigarettes to anyone of legal age – poisons that can and do KILL.
I was still a lad in America when Nixon declared war of marijuana despite the advice that cannabis had excellent medicinal qualities.
He refused to accept it. He refused to listen.
Much of the hypocrisy goes back to the Rockefeller Drug Laws, New York and Michigan were used to profile minorities and poor white people; eugenics.
One also experimented with the new Thai cannabis system in Thailand in August, their features borrowed or possibly replicated from elsewhere*. Includes viewing as a social health issue, like cigarettes smoking in public is frowned upon, shops are registered businesses paying taxes, abide by local regulations, set up like a cafe and menu including details on strength and effects.
Meanwhile, Australia drags its heels, while we have some of the highest consumption of cannabis globally and turn a blind eye to our heavy use of alcohol (and broader negative impacts), when many* inc. US states, Canada, Portugal, Spain etc. are legalising (Germany soon, & Czechia says it will follow) while most in Europe have at least decriminalised cannabis &/or don’t police it.
Interestingly enough, a strong proponent of legalisation of all drugs should be the IPA, as the Kochs had often promoted legalisation under the guise of libertarian views and cutting police/prison costs.
Of course. Nothing new here, if you have a sensible mind and are prepared to go where the facts lead you.
As it happens, a 90 year old family friend, who had been very ill for some years, owes his current robust health and enjoyment of life to medical cannabis.
I enquired about it, but was disappointed to learn it wasn’t on the PBS.
Yes Michael – there is a whole rigmarole of endeavour to get through, before even getting to have CBD oil or any other form of medicinal cannabis, if at all.
Referral by your doctor to a clinic that deals solely with the regulation and distribution of the extract. An appointment at the clinic where the entire history of oneself is taken. ( My Doctor told me all this – she is quite ok with cannabis use ) … and then assessment and finally if fortunate, access to their own prescriptions for the oil. These are specialists involved in running these clinics.
However, not so fortunate is the hip pocket. Costs to visit the clinic, costs a lot to get the prescription filled and insult to injury, it is not available through the PBS, as you said.
Now. ( gasp !) … after some research …
** Cannabis clinics specialise in the TGA application process and therefore you may get a prescription faster. The average clinic appointment and application pricing is $253. Checkups and product pricing vary.
** As for the cost of the cannabis itself – ranges from $150 > $3,650 per month.
I was interested to try and help relieve the pain I have from fibromyalgia ( which at times is gross pain – I am on strictly self managed opioids ).
I think I will resort to looking for hash cookies recipes.
On a serious note, it is way way over due that something should be done about making marijuana available and legal to all and that a price cap be put on the medicinal cannabis – and that it be obtained through the PBS.
@ Roswell: Nixon was a chronic alcoholic who was reported as regularly wanting to blow the USSR off the face of the map, but was ordered to bed by the miloitary officers attending the atomic switches.
NEC, rumour has it that he and Kissinger were drunk when he decided to bomb Cambodia.
Given the current default minimalisation of attention spans, I doubt anyone will give this offering its full unfolding, nevertheless, I post it as one man’s version of the madness that was Richard Nixon…(by the great American filmmaker, Robert Altman).
Canguro … I watched it all – once started I couldn’t leave it. A really excellent monologue by a very good actor.
The film apparently was shot over 7 days only, and the actor Philip Baker Hall, had played this monologue role on stage – so his lines were familiar to him, which I think enhanced the seamless thread of his speaking voice – as there must have been many takes and the whole project was exhausting … understandably.
While Nixon drunkenly pontificated about the evils of marijuana, & his ignoring of the situation part of the arrogance of the man ( and poor fool of a man ) … I wouldn’t mind betting he had a few reefers in his time.
He really was like a mad dogs breakfast – not only from this portrayal, but also frorm the many reports of his drunken addictive behaviour.
Thanks for sharing this.
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