By Loren Wiener
In the English speaking world and beyond, the words “hemp”, “cannabis”, and “marijuana”are well understood in their meaning. Australia never a country of conformity, choose via their government to do things slightly differently.
well very differently.
In Australia, according to a recent (2015) poll (1), 91-94% of the population support the use of Cannabis for medicinal purposes. Unfortunately, only 5% or less of the politicians agree with the people that they are supposed to be representing.
Also, the public do not have billions at risk in the pharmaceutical industry where Australia’s own opioid industry alone is the largest of its kind in the world, and a perhaps well servicing prime minister whose own wife is the chairman of a pharmaceutical company herself for almost 6 six years and is known to be “out of alignment” with his own party. Malcolm Turnbull is the richest prime minister in Australian history and the 2nd richest ever parliamentarian only being surpassed by billionaire Clive Palmer.
The result is the government then has a self-imposed challenge, how to follow the “will of the people, and legalise medical Cannabis but prevent anything that gets you “high” in medicine or worse recreational use.
Australia’s War on Drugs Gets Worse in 2016
If you were to google “safe and legal cannabis” you would be very lucky to not pull up many articles on medical Cannabis in Australia. Australia has chosen to narrow the fight on Cannabis in Australia a few simple ways.
- Refine the word “cannabis” in state and federal bills from a plant to a “suite of products and things”. Depending on the state this can be GMO, synthetics (not from a plant), and even opioids and “anything that acts like Cannabis”. All in the public record (Hansards)
- Redefine “hemp” from cannabis below 2% THC to cannabis below 1% THC (so far in states, NSW and QLD) and force the eradication of all crops that do not meet this criterion
- Make sure all licenses, bills, acts and legislature offer alternatives to natural cannabis products by introducing pharmaceutical alternatives with no THC and call it medical Cannabis in line with the new and improved definitions.
- With media controlled by government sound-bites, maintain the gag order not letting press or the public be aware of the changes unless the public gets the word out themselves or are looking at the latest bills that are all public record.
- Announce to the Country and many times that medical Cannabis is now legal or about to be legal ignoring that the “medical Cannabis” as some of the videos from the pharmaceutical company’s joke themselves, “Spending millions, on medical Cannabis trials, and testing, using “no Cannabis”.
- Ignore that all the new pharmaceutical products being manufactured, or imported that are to be trialed or tested on mostly children, have a high failure rate, do not have THC, and have a high rate of SAE’s (serious side effects) and recently reported deaths during the trials. Something Cannabis has never had.
- Reduce the benchmark of what trafficking is so as to include self-grows, and increase penalties for medical cannabis patients, growers, and caregivers and not tell the public (passed in state Victoria in Feb 2016) 33-6.
A recent impact of this was the recent bill that passed supposedly against 100% ICE, a real issue in Australia, was actually about Medical Cannabis and the video the journalist used was slightly edited, to make it appear it was about ICE and not Cannabis and the bill passed virtually undebated. The journalist when asked why he lied in a story this week “It is not a lie even if the story is false, if I did not know it was false”. The journalist in question a senior political contact, Richard W in Australia, on being notified of the mistruth not only did nothing about it, but continued the trend of “mistruths” recently in another story. Journalists in Australia are not required to remember what they say in phone conversations, or remember facts if not addressed in a sound bite. Ethics it would seem is too “old school”. How Would Australia Pull Off Such a Show that is Well Under Way.
Safe and Legal – The Governments gateway words to Australian Cannabis Prohibition
Ask any politician in Australia and if they have read the script their answer is very simple and they are spending millions on the outcome of the performances.
“Young Johnny, did so well on illegal unsafe, crude, black market, illegal cannabis, we are going to change the laws so this does not happen again and give them safe and legal medical cannabis”.
Safe is viewed behind closed doors as pharmaceutical only, and legal means anything not pharma is also illegal, whilst the public would correctly believe safe means Cannabis with few if any side effects is already safe.
To the 94% of the public that support medical Cannabis most of them will take these words and stories in the media at 100% face value. Those that have followed the bills know what that really says and what has really happened. The new laws are steeper penalties and the new legal products have been promised for years but anything with THC still remains illegal.
The government has declared THC is illegal, so the only thing that is legal are pharmaceuticals. Mainly Epidiolex from GW Pharma, that are leading all the research in Australia and training and overseeing all the government research. GM is distributed by Novartis, a $174B (AUD) pharmaceutical giant. This combined with Bayer AG being the largest distributor of GM Pharma in the World, and about to purchase Monsanto, some of the concerns around medical Cannabis are embedded and old for Australia but new and fresh for other countries.
To those that understand the truth, seeing the state premiers pose with Cannabis that has no THC, and has little medical value
What Happened and Now What?
The world saw the USA legalise medical Cannabis in California in 1996. However, federally, ten years later in 2006, the FDA USA legalised GMO Cannabis by GW Pharma with initial R&D support from Bayer AG. Overall this had little impact at the time. Jump ahead another 10 years to 2016 and the pharmaceutical industry is long embedded in the Australian government and this is starting to impact the landscape in the USA where about half the states do not have legal medical or recreational Cannabis.
Australia exports around $5billion in pharmaceuticals every year and turnover around $23billion every year. – www.bit.ly/aus-opiates
Back in 1984 (ironic) there was a Royal Commission in the Australian aptly known state of South Australia also known as the Sackville Commission, it essentially said Australia was misinterpreting, misinforming, and incorrectly enforcing the UN Single use act specific to personal use of Cannabis. The UN though some say not clear enough, essentially said personal use was not the issue trafficking was. This left Australia with some suggestions, mainly to allow personal use and decriminalize Cannabis. Unfortunately, the suggestions were voted down and though Australia did slightly decriminalize Cannabis as a result in the state of SA, it created nationally an exercise that goes on today to lower the benchmark of what trafficking is. This means though growing cannabis for medicine and with very few plants are guilty of trafficking. States have also made changes to bills and acts, to create new laws on encouraging trafficking.
This means if you visited a website that talked about how to grow a single plant, and then sent a link in an email to a friend, you are guilty of 2 serious crimes with stiff penalties, 1) encouraging trafficking by viewing a story (a 5-year penalty) and contributing to trafficking by sending the email an additional 10-year penalty. It is not clear how the laws will be enforced but frequent arrests by those that use social media to sell or just discuss issues has risen sharply from 2015 to 2016
Pharmaceutical Industry Turnover in Australia
Source: Australian Government Department of Industry- Pharmaceutical Division
Pharmaceutical Exports from Australia
The impact of Cannabis on the pharmaceutical market cannot be ignored in Australia or globally. With 90% of global medical use pain related, then cancer related neither of these are planned for Australia, and a lowering export and flattening domestic pharmaceutical industry will increase the counter operations of the pharmaceutical industry.
In the last few days, in a puzzling move the government has said they are asking illegal users to bring in their illegal cannabis oil products for “genetics and other testing”. This by a 100% pharmaceutical anti-THC research scheme. The last time the government encouraged something similar, the TICS or Terminal Illness Cannabis Scheme, saw more arrests for people joining, then are in the scheme. The Australian government has also been looking for good oil genetics they can keep and this would enable that also. With the recent law suit in Canada (Allard v Canada) using article 7 resulting in the government being forced to allow self-growing again, many are looking at a similar situation in Australia.
Here c 117 and 109 in the constitution look at how Australia constitution prevents the prejudicial situations where some states in Australia have different laws, penalties, and even definitions of what Cannabis is. Australia has also allowed jurisprudence with the USA and Canada making previous precedents something that are being explored as other states (foreign and domestic) are wrong, illogical and as time might tell constitutionally prejudice.
Authored By Loren Wiener
Editor This Week In Weed (Australia)