With the election just around the corner, it’s time to think about the political side of weed legalisation. Much to our delight, there are a few parties running on a pro-weed ticket this year. One of which is the Drug Law Reform Party. We caught up with Greg Chipp, president of Drug Law Reform Australia and son of the late Don Chipp, inaugural leader of the Australian Democrats.
ALSO: A guide to the pro-weed parties in Election 2016
See Drug Law Reform Australia’s website here.
Why do you think cannabis should be legal?
It’s a travesty of justice that people can be arrested for possessing a plant, a herb, something that grows in the ground. There’s 66,000 young people arrested in Australia every year for doing something that even the Prime Minister has confessed on national television to having done.
There are other parties who are pro-legalisation, like the HEMP party and the Sex party, what separates you from them?
Quite a lot to be perfectly frank. We’re a single issue party, we’re staunch in our opposition and trying to get the drug law reform on the political agenda.
“I’m not against big business producing a quality product, but at the end of the day it should always be allowed to be grown as a plant”
Just to contrast, The Sex Party is a plethora of policies and very hard to define what they’re about apart from perhaps political opportunism.
And of course the HEMP party focusses on hemp and they were slinging insults at us earlier in the year calling us the “All Drug Party”. Personally, I don’t see how you could be opposed to the persecution and prosecution of people who use cannabis without opposing the entire criminalisation of people that use all drugs. And the position on all drugs is not to encourage their use, even with cannabis, but simply to say that someone using a substance for their own pleasure should not be criminalised.
What are the major obstacles for legalisation at present?
At the end of the day I think it really comes down to prejudice and ignorance. We’ve had 50 years of prohibition and the propaganda has sinked through where there is so much erroneous information about the effects of drugs. At the end of the day prejudice that’s very hard to overcome, but ultimately it will happen.
What sort of a model to you envisage for legal cannabis in Australia?
There would be two parallel markets. I’m not against big business producing a quality product, but at the end of the day it should always be allowed to be grown as a plant. To try and protect businesses interest by limiting people’s ability to grow a plant would just be more of the same prohibition under a different name.
Do you smoke cannabis? Why?
Currently I don’t use cannabis, because I’m too bloody busy, but I used it for 35 years of my life intermittently … Cannabis to me has been a relaxant; it’s been a passport to communication the world over with people of a similar mind, people that are independent … It’s a question of personal freedom that I’ve used to express myself and allowed me to meet people of a similar disposition the world over.
So there’s been a lot of talk lately about Malcolm Turnbull smoking pot – would you have a joint with him?
Look I’m not that fussy who I smoke with so I suppose I would if he was up for it.
I do find the hypocrisy of politicians breathtaking in the fact that Malcolm Turnbull can laugh on national television about smoking cannabis and not be conscience-bound to change the cannabis laws. He must realise there’s a blight on the whole Australian justice system.