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Stupid laws causing immense harm (Image via @SocProgressIOM)

We can and must change the unjust and irrational laws regarding cannabis, says a harmless user facing criminalisation by the State.

"A pretend law, made in excess of power, is not and never has been a law at all. Anyone in the country is entitled to disregard it."

~ Chief Justice Sir John Latham, 1942, South Australia v Commonwealth (“First Uniform Tax case”), 65 CLR 373 at 408

I am an almost 50 year old Australian citizen. I have been gainfully and continuously employed in my field of speciality since leaving school, and am respected by my colleagues. I have two university degrees, the second of which was completed recently as a mature age student.

For approximately 30 years now I have been using cannabis to help deal with the crushing depression and anxiety that are caused by bipolar disorder. (I was officially diagnosed bipolar type II in the early 2000's).

I have tried everything on offer from conventional medicine. I dutifully took all their pills, attended numerous appointments with psychiatrists and psychologists, did a cognitive behaviour course, but nothing has worked for me.

I was prescribed many different drugs for my condition over time, including lithium (a drug which is associated with cases of renal disease and failure) and various SSRI type drugs (use of which a recent study suggests correlate with a significant reduction in lifespan).

The pills actually made me even more despondent and hopeless, feeling like I was living in a grey fog, dazed and confused all my waking hours, as well as causing nausea and bloating.

The only thing I've ever found to give me some consistent sort of relief is cannabis. It has an ability to level things out for a while, allowing me to focus and function, and sometimes even feel something that I imagine is close to inner peace. There is significant evidence emerging that cannabis can be very effective in treating mood disorders.

Until around 18 months ago, I had obtained my herb via the black market, paying the exorbitant prices created by prohibition. After being ripped off one too many times, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands, and designed and built a small two plant system to grow my cannabis 100% organically using aquaponics.

I have never sold cannabis, never offered cannabis to minors and have been careful to never medicate in front of our children. The only reason I came to police attention is that somebody once close to me wanted to hurt me for cutting them out of my life for their egregious behaviour. I now come to finding myself at the pointy end of the baseless and immoral laws regarding the use and cultivation of cannabis in Australia.

I do not use the words "baseless" and "immoral" casually. Cannabis scheduling in Australia is predicated on demonstrably false statements. Our government – and governments around the world – base their stance on the following premises: That the raw plant has no medicinal value or properties and that cannabis has an addiction chance profile commensurate with that of heroin.

World governments even laughably describe cannabis as a "narcotic", which is completely incorrect.

To quote internationally respected neurosurgeon and head medical correspondent for CNN Dr Sanjay Gupta, neither of those statements has ever been factual.

To further quote Dr Gupta regarding cannabis laws:

“We have been terribly and systematically misled [regarding the medical benefits of cannabis] for over 70 years and I, for one, am sorry for the part I have played in that."

Dr Gupta has produced three scientific, fact-based documentaries about the medicinal properties of Cannabis, (Weed 1, 2 and 3, respectively), which played an important role in educating the wider American population and influencing their public debate in a profoundly positive way. I don't think these investigative pieces have even been discussed in mainstream media in Australia, let alone broadcast here.

In America, the longest running drug-war institutions are the DEA and NIDA. NIDA is considered a serious authority by prohibitionists. According to their own research, NIDA lists cannabis as having a 9% addiction chance profile, meaning that they believe 9% of people who will try it may develop a "problematic" use pattern. The ACP assigned to alcohol is, by comparison, 15%.

So even some of the most ardent drug warrior type organisations around openly publish data that directly contradicts the ridiculous claim that cannabis is in any way as addictive as heroin. Not only that, but they show one of the most ubiquitously available, currently legal (and deadly) drugs – alcohol – is more addictive by a significant factor.

So, if the principal claims of no medical benefit of the raw plant and as addictive as heroin are bullshit, what about other claims such as cannabis being labelled a "causation" factor in mental illness, and a "gateway" to other drugs?

In no jurisdiction that has scientifically literate, honest, adult governments creating regulated markets for legal cannabis access can any significant spike in figures for mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, be found, nor any evidence of cannabis use leading to use of harder drugs. Colorado, for example, not only has no such problem, but after only a couple of years now have their lowest teen cannabis use rate ever recorded, significant drops in violent crime figures, as well as lower driving fatality statistics. Additionally, opioid overdose deaths are lower in every state with legal access to cannabis.

But don't take my word for it. See the writings of and interviews with internationally respected scientific and medical figures, such as neuropharmacologist David Nutt, psychologist Dr Mitch Earleywine, neurobiologist Dr Carl Hart and psychiatrist Dr Lester Grinspoon on this issue if you are actually interested in facts and science relating to cannabis and its medical properties.

So why has literally nothing changed in Australia, while overseas things are developing so rapidly?

There are many factors. Firstly, major lobbying from big pharma companies. Sales figures for opiate painkillers in legal cannabis states in U.S tell the story: massive declines in sales as people switch to a non-lethal, herbal alternative, which, in many provinces, they are able to grow themselves for free at home.

In the USA, the top five lobby groups opposing legislative change are police unions, private prison corporations, big pharma, prison guard unions and alcohol producers. I would wager there are elements of all these lobby groups active here in Australia too. Not to forget various religious groups as well.

One the biggest problems here is the complicity of our mainstream corporate media. They never challenge the government/police "reefer madness" narrative in any significant factual or scientific way.

Why would they when a huge part of their business model is whipping up baseless fear and hysteria? They will never change their attitudes until we have a scientifically literate, honest government who ignores their noise and gets on with doing the right thing.

"Well, you shouldn't have broken the law, mate, then you wouldn't be in trouble."

If you support the idea that a government can simply make up any crap it likes, however untrue, base laws upon those lies, laws that turn citizens into criminals, destroy lives and careers for no good reason, then you are not moral, scientifically literate, or honest. The cannabis laws are a massive waste of taxpayer dollars/police/judicial time that could be better spent dealing with serious crimes such as murder, domestic violence, robbery, rape, and white collar crime.

How long must we wait? When will we get a scientifically literate government with the honesty and courage to act? How many more billions of dollars are we going to piss up against the wall, wasting police and judicial time for absolutely no positive outcome? Until we shift to a pragmatic, health and harm-reduction based approach to cannabis and other drugs, we will be stuck in the endless, un-winnable War on Drugs, and the hideous injustice practiced daily against citizens will continue unabated.

We can and must change the laws regarding cannabis. The alternative is just to continue paying lip service to the "Emperors' New Cannabis Laws" and ignoring the pain and needless distress foisted upon those who choose, for whatever reasons, to ignore these "pretend laws" — just as Chief Justice Latham suggested we have a right to do all those years ago, in 1942.

For obvious reasons, this story has been published anonymously.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

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