Michael Balderstone, the currently leader of the HEMP Party, has been campaigning to Help End Marijuana Prohibition for decades. Here’s what he has to say on Australia’s current cannabis climate.
The Australian Cannabis Summit was held this November, with Balderstone being invited along to to talk about the Trials and Tribulations of the HEMP Party. Dr John Teh of PlantMed conducted the interview, which led to a range of interesting talk points.
Balderstone was quick to dive into the criminal versus health aspect of cannabis, with him firmly backing that cannabis “should be a health issue.” He believes the vested interests of the vast networks of prisons in Australia, along with the power of Big Pharma to keep cannabis as a criminal matter, has prevented the issue being discussed more.
He then went on to explain that the health issue is even larger as the international criminal networks dictating Australia’s cannabis black market, couldn’t care one bit about the health of those consuming their cannabis.
Most of the pot in Australia on the street is grown by highly organised crime, full of chemicals, they don’t really care about the health quality of the product.
And it’s true. Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs) are often used by growers to maximise profits, but come at a deadly cost to the health of those on the consumption end.
On the full legalisation of cannabis, Balderstone backs the movement to limit the control of big corporations on the potential industry, mentioning:
I reckon there’s 100,000 jobs just waiting to happen in Australia, if they allowed smaller licenses, you know, instead of a huge corporations growing 20 acres of weed and employing 50 people. There are thousands of people who would like to make a living out of being a small supplier. Supply 50 kilos or something, you know, boutique growers like boutique breweries or something like that. I would love to see it become smaller.
This is similar to the policy introduced in New Zealand’s cannabis legalisation referendum, which made specific allowances for small and micro growers. Unfortunately, big budgets and fear mongering from the “No” campaign swayed the end result. It’s not over yet, though, with advocates saying the government should act despite the results, saying they should at least consider decriminalisation.
On decriminalisation, the NSW government seems to be going backwards with the introduction of drug sniffers dogs around the state, stirring massive backlash around the country. Balderstone argued the fact the use of such tactics may even promote people to use truly dangerous drugs as an alternative to cannabis.
I think the driving and sniffer dogs has changed drug habits a bit. You know, a lot of people won’t use cannabis because it’s the easy bus, stays in your system so long. So, they’re gonna use other drugs, which may well more dangerous. So, there’s a lot. There’s a lot of wins to happen if we can re-legalise, but it’s coming.
Dr Teh was quick to agree, responding with that the trajectory of legalisation “is that it is coming”, following on with that “our community would be healthier and less violent.”
Balderstone summed up the outcomes of legalisation in words we couldn’t agree with more:
We’d save billions from costs and make a fortune in tax.
And the stats back it up – more than $1.1 billion is spent every year policing cannabis in Australia, with potential tax revenues exceeding $2 billion a year if recreational cannabis were to be legalised.
We wish Balderstone and the HEMP Party the best of luck in their future endeavours. Hopefully in the near future we’ll be able to celebrate the big milestone.
You can watch the full video of the interview here.