Australia… where no good weed goes unpunished. Is it finally time to change the law to allow access to all? Emma Markezic says yes
THING THAT PIQUED MY INTEREST THIS MONTH
I just spent a big ol’ chunk of time in the US of A. And as often happens when you’re a tourist in a strange land, those Americans had questions. Only these days it’s gone from ‘Do you guys really ride kangaroos to school?’ to ‘Are you guys really not allowed to smoke weed?’ Yep, it’s a thing. And when we’re less progressive on the matter than a country that still enforces the death penalty, I think we may have a problem. Just sayin’!
BUT WE’RE MAKING PROGRESS, RIGHT?
Sort of. Only last year our government, in its eternal wisdom, made it legal for those with chronic medical conditions to use marijuana at all. Back in February, the
federal government announced it was going to loosen laws surrounding the supply of medicinal marijuana so patients would have quicker access to it – basically, making it legal to grow it in our own backyard instead of importing it from overseas. Even then, most people take it as oil – cancer patients aren’t smoking joints on the hotel balcony. But it’s a start. Of course, what you really want to know is: When can we smoke it for fun?!
THE SHORT ANSWER IS…
The current prediction is that we’ll have recreational cannabis within five years. But we’ll have to jump through a lot of hoops to get there. In the US, it’s legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and Washington – representing around a quarter of the entire US population. Over there, these issues are voted for and changed on a state level. The problem we have Down Under is that these sort of things are largely a national decision. And anything that has to go through the federal system inevitably takes longer and is much harder to green light. Aussie states and territories could go it on their own but the laws would be limited to how you are sentenced for getting caught with the stuff. Even then, there are a bunch of federal laws – like driving under the influence of drugs – that would remain in force.
IF YOU WEED BETWEEN THE LINES…
This means decriminalising marijuana isn’t going to be a simple matter. We won’t just tick a box on a ballot and get lit that afternoon. Even once the issue gets some air time in Parliament House, there will be a bunch of other regulations to also be considered under the umbrella law, covering things like transport, storage, tax, advertising… the list goes on. The best way to expedite the process? Use the bureaucracy that’s getting in the way. Look into the work of the Help End Marijuana Prohibition Party or become a member of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation. The best way to hash brownies is getting your voice heard. Play your cards right and you’ll be vaping at your gay best friend’s wedding in no time. Democracy: it’s also a thing. Not even the haters can disagree with that.
Follow Emma on Twitter and Instagram @markyknowsbest.
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