The G20 Leaders’ Summit is the right time to address “the elephant in the room” marijuana legalisation issue, HEMP Embassy president Michael Balderstone says.
The Hemp Embassy protested in Musgrave Park yesterday for the legalisation of marijuana continuing the long running debate surrounding the drug.
Organisers of the protest hope for media attention during the G20 Leaders’ Summit to put the legalisation debate back on the political agenda.
The group made national headlines earlier this week after G20 security officials squashed their plans to use a 10 metre long inflatable joint as a protest prop deeming it too large.
Speaking prior to the protest, Mr Balderstone says, “Cannabis, [worth] 300 billion dollars is the biggest crop in money terms on the planet.”
“How do we get it on the agenda? There’s big vested interests stopping [the law] from being changed.”
Ten members from the HEMP Embassy were present at the protest.
Mr Balderstone says he stood for total removal of prohibition and want the drug made available for recreational use.
“Medical use is a good start, but I think it was a big mistake prohibiting nature’s best pain killer,” Mr Balderstone said.
Mr Balderstone also criticised the Australian Medical Association and the medical industry for their opposition to recreational use.
“I just feel furious at the AMA, the doctors and the pharmaceutical industry for their lack of compassion. I have to say they are sucked into the money game,” Mr Balderstone says.
“You know there’s huge profits to be made from pain relief… I just think the business thing has clouded their view and they’ve lost touch with nature.”
The AMA describes itself as an independent lobby group representing the medical profession.
President of the AMA (NSW) Dr Saxon Smith says the group does not support legalisation of marijuana for recreational use due to the evidence of harm caused by the drug.
Issues like psychiatric illness are long term consequences of smoking marijuana and when it’s mixed with tobacco users run the risk of throat cancer, lung cancer and tongue cancer, Dr Smith says.
“These are very well documented issues that have been discussed both at a national and international level.”
The AMA says they support and encourage further research into the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Dr Smith dismisses Mr Balderstone’s accusations levelled at the AMA.
“Our whole response is actually about keeping the whole community in mind and ensuring the safety around any drug,” Dr Smith said.
The use of marijuana for any purpose remains illegal in every state and territory of Australia.
In September of this year, the New South Wales government announced it would begin clinical trials of marijuana for medical use.