The medicinal marijuana debate was thrown wide open today by the ABC’s Vote Compass Poll. Nearly 80% of the 35,000 people surveyed were in favour of marijuana being legal for medical purposes. The most wild part though, is that 84% of people over the age of 55 (that’s right, you read correctly, over) were in favour, either agreeing or strongly agreeing with the idea.
Frankly, this blows my mind. Because when it comes to the issue of medicinal marijuana, I tend to picture white guys in their late twenties with dreads flopping by their ears, dressed in flowing hemp ropes, eating Doritos and telling me how weed can cure cancer. Or like, cool uncles who have day jobs now, but totally spent time in an ashram during the early eighties and have the physical scars to prove it.
But for 79% of the 35,000 people to agree on something as divisive as partial weed legalisation, there must have been crew from all walks of life jumping on the bandwagon. The Premier, Mike Baird announced last week, that government funded clinical trials for epileptic children and chemo patients would start in earnest if he gets re-elected. His opponent Luke Foley- the opposition leader- has accused the State Government of moving too slowly, saying the medical results of weed have been proven and the time has come to make legislative change.
Its bizarre to think that currently, New South Wales has the harshest marijuana laws in the country. Any cannabis related offence is a criminal one. If you have less than 15 grams, you will just get a caution from the police, but more than that and shit gets serious quick. So we’re going to go from the harshest laws in the country. To partial legalisation, in some form, by the end of the year.
That’s a pretty hectic turn around. But thanks to the twenty three states in the USA that have legalised weed totally or medicinally, and not exploded in a giant ball of crime, debauchery, rioting and Satanism, the idea has gained some serious traction. It’s also a great revenue raiser for States, with Colorado selling 34 million dollars worth of weed in August alone last year. On top of that, crime dropped by nearly 15% from the year before.
Tony. If you’re reading, I think I know how to plug that budget black hole. Medically, there is a growing feeling that medical marijuana could be useful in the treatment of diseases as wide ranging as MS, tourettes, anorexia, depression and even glaucoma.
Does this mean you’re going to be able to a 50 bag at a 7/11? Not quite. Yet. But whatever way this election works out, NSW is taking a step in that direction.
Editor Note: Read the Colorado Case Study and its implications on Australia.
Words by Patrick Cullen. Photo by SMH.