Medical marijuana has been making headway in Australia with the legalization of in-country cultivation for medicinal and scientific purposes, but advocates are continuing to conduct acts of civil disobedience to make their voices heard.
The Free Cannabis Community is hosting an event on April 20th in Flagstaff Gardens in Melbourne. The event, which coincides with the most famous cannabis holiday, 4/20, is the 6th annual rally held by the organization, is expected to draw thousands.
The event will not include the buying or selling of cannabis, which is still illegal.
“This mass act of civil disobedience is not designed to cause any disruptions or to upset anybody. It is not about the wonderful benefits of cannabis but it IS about the wonderful people who are hurt by Cannabis Prohibition,”
the organization said on its Facebook page.
Free Cannabis Community held another event in Sydney at Victoria Park on April 9th. In attendance was Paul Lawrence, a terminally ill cancer patient with large tumors along his spinal column and back. He had previously been charged with possessing less than a gram of medical marijuana at one of the Free Cannabis Victoria events. “Only a sick state and a sick government and police force would arrest and charge an ill man like me,” said Lawrence in reference to his plans to attend the event on April 20.
Some of the tumors on Peter Lawrence’s back. He uses cannabis to manage the pain.
Both Lawrence and the Free Cannabis Community support the end of prohibition for the welfare of the community.
“The prohibition of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use does far more damage to society than someone like me having a quiet smoke with friends,”
In Australia, polling has shown that 91 percent of respondents support cannabis for medicinal use. It’s estimated that 750,000 Australians use cannabis on a weekly basis. The organizer of the event, Chris Hindi, wants to change the perception of the typical marijuana user. “There’s a stigma that cannabis users are lazy, slow and dopey but the majority of people aren’t; they’re lawyers, doctors and accountants. A lot of people are closet users.”
Hindi wants to move towards more research and less incarceration. “From what we know, there is no real detriment or side effects from cannabis use. Some say it will cause psychosis but we really don’t know that until we know more about it [so] why are we prosecuting good people?”