17 November 2011

Nimbin offers Obama a joint plan

Everyone knows that President Barack Obama has admitted to inhaling, and we imagine when he saw the 10 metre inflatable Big Joint in Canberra yesterday (Wednesday, 16 November) he knew he'd never get his lips around this one.

The President's visit was never going to be dull, but Nimbin group The HEMP (Help End Marijuana Prohibition) Party made sure of it.

The group gained approval from the National Capital Authority (NCA) to take along the inflatable mascot in the Authorised Assembly Area (AAA) in hope to catch Obama and the Australian Government's attention.

The idea was originally knocked back by the Australian Federal Police but they were encouraged to apply to the NCA. Hemp Party president Michael Balderstone said they were appreciative of their mission but had one request.

"They asked us to move up the back a bit. No big deal," Mr Balderstone said.

What the party want is to get the drug war on the agenda while Obama is in the country, because he has helped law reform and medical cannabis dispensaries across America.

"The President talks about smoking weed in his autobiography and he knows cannabis is a good medicine," Mr Balderstone said. "The reforms he has supported have had no discernable negative social consequences. What we want is to take it out of the too hard basket and talk about it."

Mr Balderstone said proper use and legalisation is all about education and he believes that it will create fewer problems when it comes to the negative connotations surrounding the drug.

"People doing something illegal are disrespecting the law and therefore will disrespect other laws," Mr Balderstone said.

The party claim the government could save a fortune in lots of areas; from enforcement and incarceration costs plus the consequent social disasters.

"Thousands of jobs can be created with the stroke of a pen simply by regulating this industry. We also believe it is a priority to normalise the lives of those involved in the current multi-billion dollar cannabis industry," Mr Balderstone said.

Mr Balderstone said the bottom line is pharmaceutical companies want the profits, and although he doesn't believe marijuana use is suited for everyone, bringing the cannabis culture out from the underground will help educate people about it.

"It can help with many illnesses including Crohn's disease, glaucoma and nausea from cancer. I am also confident in its anti-cancer properties as well as its use as a relaxant," Mr Balderstone said.

The HEMP Party delegation, now seeking candidates for the next Federal election, left Nimbin on Tuesday morning and took along a group of 12 including representatives from the Mullers and Packers Union.

"Finally pressure is mounting around Australia for true reform. It's an issue whose time has come we believe," Mr Balderstone said.

According to Mr Balderstone since Julia Gillard has been Prime Minister her only comment on cannabis is that she tried it once and didn't like it.

17 November, 2011
Mel Carrero
The Northern Rivers Echo

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