02 November 2014

REPEAT AFTER ME: ‘Cannabis is not a dangerous drug’.*

A policy discussion paper from the HEMP Party.
by James Moylan
HEMP National Campaign Director
*Basic principles cannot be dismissed.*
We cannot allow discussions regarding cannabis – be it a discussion regarding medicinal or recreation use – to be hijacked by false assertions and misinformation. We must always label ‘bullshit’ as ‘bullshit’.

*Introduction: REPEAT AFTER ME: ‘Cannabis is not a dangerous drug’.*

The need for many Australians to have access to cannabis as a medicine has recently, very belatedly, been recognised by many Australian politicians. However our social conversations regarding this topic remain riven with misinformation and seem entirely detached from reality. For as long as this remains the case the social conversation will go nowhere.
If any person wishes to advocate for the continued disaffection of the right of the individual Australian citizen to grow and use cannabis: they must first demonstrate actual physical harm being visited on both individuals, and the society at large, that can be demonstrably associated with the growing and use of cannabis.
Otherwise they should shut up and mind their own business.
*The heart of the problem.*
The HEMP Party demands that the arguments we have in our press and in our social media regarding cannabis law and regulation in Australia be predicated on the same basis as are all other arguments regarding the prohibition or regulation of any other thing or behaviour within our society.
Unlike most issues that we consider within our social discussions, the root problem that continues to be at the heart of the cannabis debate is the nature of the discussion itself: our discussions regarding cannabis continue to be based on and animated by the concept that cannabis is a ‘dangerous drug’.
This false assertion not only underlies and animates almost all of our social discussion, but also our current suite of cannabis laws and regulations.
All despite it being easily demonstrated that:
~ Cannabis is by far the least (medically) harmful of all the commonly used recreational agents that are used within our society.
~ Nobody dies from cannabis use.
~ None of our hospital beds host people who have injuries sustained by the use of cannabis.
Whereas this is not the case regarding every other drug used in our society for recreational and/or therapeutic purposes. In fact, we all know that comparing the harms associated with cannabis use and the harms associated with the use of alcohol, or with the use of virtually any pharmaceutical product: is like comparing a breeze with a hurricane.
The inescapable fact is that nobody dies from cannabis abuse and there are no identifiable primary health consequences associated with the use of cannabis. Yet every time a discussion is engaged in our social media or press regarding cannabis it invariably works backwards from the provably false assertion that cannabis is a dangerous drug and instantly commences within a contemplation of the nature of the regulations and laws that need to exist to protect society from the harms that are associated with the use of cannabis.
And every time one of these conversations is undertaken it just serves to assist in perpetuating the repetition of these palpably false assertions.
*Why do we craft a law or regulation?*
Either we craft our regulations rationally and in response to actual identified harm being visited on individuals and the society – or we craft inequitable and unjust regulations and laws.
Currently the laws being proposed regarding medicinal cannabis are being lauded by many in the cannabis law reform arena as being ‘progressive’. However the arguments about medicinal cannabis that have been undertaken in our press and our parliaments have actually been undertaken in some sort of disconnected la-la land.
Every one of the legislative propositions that have so far been put forward in Australia regarding medicinal cannabis have been firmly based on the proposition that cannabis is such a dangerous drug that patients in our country must have reams of regulation and public officials between them and their use of cannabis: for their own safety.
This is simply bullshit.
The aspirin that these patients buy at a local supermarket can and does cause more than six hundred fold as many deaths (at least) as does cannabis. The Paracetamol that these patients buy from a local supermarket can and does kill more than two Australians each and every day. However (according to the rationale underlying the propositions currently being examined) access to cannabis as a medicine in Australia must be more rigorously controlled than access to morphine or oxycodone (which is, in effect, legal heroin).
We must not continue to countenance this unhinged discussion without demanding that those who are engaging in it first demonstrate why they are engaging in it.
The very first thing that must happen in any public discussion regarding cannabis (medical or otherwise) is that the proponents of any form of ongoing strict and unjust cannabis regulation (of any type) must first demonstrate factually that there is actually a problem to be solved!
The HEMP Party demands that before any further discussion relating to cannabis regulation be undertaken that those engaging in the discussion first identify particular harms inflicted by the behaviours being complained about, and to quantify those harms in a scientifically rigorous manner, and then demonstrate how the intercessions will act to mitigate the identified harm.
*We must be intolerant of hypocrisy because our politicians are not*
Even reasonably respected and otherwise rational politicians suddenly start talking BS whenever the topic of cannabis is raised. Instantly the ‘facts’ seem to have no traction, all that is important is spin and ‘party policy’. We advertise alcohol (which kills sixty people per week, every week) yet criminalise cannabis users (which kills nobody). However the discussions entertained by politicians always relates to the nature of how harsh the regulations and laws need to be – never a discussion of the ‘harms’ that these laws are supposed to be addressing or whether or not these laws are actually doing anything at all except inflicting hardship on individual citizens where no hardship would otherwise exist.
Even the most progressive politicians in our country continue to assert that cannabis is ‘dangerous’. To date no politician in Australia has been honest enough to get up in public and say what more than 50% of Australians know to be an obvious fact from personal experience – namely that cannabis is not a dangerous drug.
Australian Politicians just refuse to say that the King has no Clothes – instead they choose to regurgitate the same old ‘drug war’ rhetoric (even though most of them know it to be a blatant lie). Even though most Australian politicians have friends and family who use cannabis, and many have used it themselves they continue to assert in public that cannabis use is associated with physical and social detriment.
So why is this the case? Especially since there is not a skerrick of proof to back up the assertion that cannabis causes enough individual or social harm to warrant even the same intercessions that might be required regarding the sale of sand (which actually causes some four deaths a year)?
From the viewpoint of an Australian politician ongoing personal and professional hypocrisy is entirely understandable. For seventy years the ‘big lie’ that cannabis is a ‘dangerous drug’ has been a social fact in our society. Millions of dollars continue to be expended on ‘interdiction and eradication’ efforts. Hundreds of people are gaoled every year for cannabis only offences. Powerful vested interests continue to lobby to keep this ‘lie’ current. Media conglomerates have embraced this lie as part of their institutional policy.
Most significantly for the cannabis law reform debate: the current medicinal cannabis discussion has simply acted to perpetuate rather than dissolve the ‘big lie’.
The reason the HEMP Party advocates that members be utterly intolerant of the continued bandying about of misinformation is because the discussion of cannabis as a medicine should be an opportunity to completely renovate the manner in which cannabis is discussed in Australia – rather than an opportunity for politicians to demonstrate who can be the most compassionate hypocrite, or an opportunity for all the media in Australia to further reinforce the bullshit idea that cannabis is dangerous.
Until cannabis law reformers become entirely intolerant of hearing this lie repeated, and so pull up politicians and press whenever they voice this lie in substance or as a presupposition underlying a question or assertion: then the big lie will continue to flourish. People will continue to talk about cannabis as if it really is a dangerous narcotic. And our politicians will continue to talk duplicitous bullshit.
Reefer madness is still alive and kicking. The 'cannabis is a dangerous drug' lie is just the modern reincarnation of the Reefer madness craziness. In the modern world politicians continue to tell this lie in a surreptitious way: by basing their discussions on this proposition without actually spelling it out explicitly.
The HEMP Party advises all cannabis law reformers and members to be utterly intolerant of all this Reefer madness nonsense. Whenever someone commences a discussion about cannabis ask them to first tell you what problems they have identified as being caused by the growing and use of cannabis, and how their propositions are aimed at fixing these identified problems.
If they can’t do this then let them know that they are simply retailing outdated ‘drug war’ bullshit, and that they should either think through what they are saying, or just shut up (for the good of us all).

Policy Discussion Paper - Australian Hemp Party

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