LOOKING OVER THE GREEN DOWN UNDER

  In many U.S. states, cancer patients and college students alike can consume cannabis safely and legally. California was a forerunner in the movement toward decriminalization in America with the famous Proposition 215 of 1996. More and more states are adopting both medicinal and recreational laws that allow the use of cannabis – in total, there are currently 23 states that have legalized cannabis in some form. Elsewhere in the country people are being handed life sentences for negligible quantities and offenses. Take a look at lifeforpot.com for some horror stories. This grave contrast has a century of legislation and policy on a global, national and state level behind it. Today, people still fight for their right to medicate themselves and recreate as they see fit. Elsewhere in the world, the fight is just beginning.

  As a general understanding, cannabis is illegal in Australia. In some areas, it is decriminalized as possession offenses typically entail a small fine. Parents like Adam Koessler are being imprisoned for treating their children’s illness with cannabis oils. While research grows and information is gathered, the societal and medical benefits of cannabis are becoming clear.

stream_img  However, this doesn’t stop the hilarious public service announcements, otherwise known as propaganda. It is a dubious honor to write about Australia’s “Stoner Sloth.” It is an anthropomorphized sloth used to illustrate the barbiturate like effects of cannabis on bright and youthful people. The sloth does little else but move slowly and be genuinely ineffectual at mundane tasks, like feeding itself. This is disservice to stoners and sloths alike! Both are very capable of feeding themselves, and certainly, a stoner may arguably be imbued with an enhanced ability to feed him/herself. These ads are reminiscent of American PSA’s of yesteryear where teens nearly melted into the couch with laze, or were guilted by their speaking dogs. These clichés aim to instill fear, but are desperate attempts to cling to a dying ideology. PSA’s aren’t credible sources, so it may be best to talk to a real person about this.

Melbourne, Australia, viewed over the Yarra River at dusk.

Melbourne, Australia, viewed over the Yarra River at dusk.

  I briefly spoke with Mark Hutchison from Cannabis Club Australia, who gave me a crash course in Australian cannabis culture. It was hard not to draw comparisons between the Australian and American struggle, and counter-culture. Medical professionals and activists have been imprisoned and reprimanded for their work with cannabis. Mark referred me to Dr. Andrew Katelaris, a man with the mission to better children’s lives through cannabis therapies focusing on the use of CBD’s. Dr. Katelaris has been imprisoned several times for his renegade research for the betterment of human beings. He is one of many activists in Australia.

An image of the Australian flag in the summer wind

An image of the Australian flag in the summer wind

  While there will forever be red-tape prohibiting green, there is hope and support growing as time passes. Australia passed a bill in support of medical cannabis earlier this year, amending the Narcotics Drugs Act of 1967. While it is a step in the right direction, it fails to acknowledge the growing consensus that Aussie’s would like recreational use legalized in the future. A poll conducted by Roy Morgan Research shows that an average of one quarter of Australians want total legalization. The same poll reveals that more than half of Australians want cannabis to remain illegal. That is a large gap, but it will only get smaller and smaller.

  While cannabis remains illegal in Australia, there is progress. In 2017, Australians will be able to use cannabis as a medicine on an entirely legal scale. This is the start of a shift in perceptions. The days of clichés like the Stoner Sloth are gone as people all over the world are starting to recognize the potential of such a simple plant.

Emerald contributor since March 2012

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