Australia appears to be lagging far behind Canada when it comes to Cannabis policy and based on current events, the gap seems to be widening even further.
Australia has just legalized Cannabis for medical use earlier this year and its program is still extremely restrictive with only about 150 patients having access to Cannabis medication. Patients are still being prosecuted every day and we just recently published a video here at Greendorphin about the Secretary of the Medical Cannabis Users Association (MCUA) being arrested for growing her own medicine.
While over the Pacific, Canada has a well established Medical Cannabis program with over 130,000 patients with prescriptions as of the end of last year (2016).
Australia’s still largely dysfunctional Medical Cannabis program is restricted to the terminally ill patients, while Canada allows Cannabis for pain management and for any conditions that the medical practitioner and the patient believe it is helpful for.
130,000 patients consuming high-quality medical Cannabis is obviously making a huge difference to the wellbeing of the Canadian society, while Australia is trying to import a limited variety of Cannabis medication from the fast growing Canadian Cannabis companies.
Yes, Canada has a booming Cannabis industry making billions of dollars every year and growing fast, while Australia hasn’t harvested any crop yet, as I am typing this post.
On the top of this, the final and most confronting difference is that Canada will be legalizing Cannabis for everyone above 18 years of age from mid next year, while Australia is busy spending money on busting patients and compassionate suppliers.
You might be wondering, how it is possible to have such an incredible difference between the two countries. Is it possible that Australian officials don’t see or don’t want to see the opportunity in Cannabis? They surely notice what Canada is doing in terms of its Cannabis policy.
How is it possible when Canada shares not only a long common past with Australia but these two countries have also been representing pretty much the same set of values throughout history.
We share a similar colonial past and to some degree a similar political system, laws, and traditions.
What is different is that Canada has a so-called Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that guarantees the civil rights of everyone in Canada from the policies and actions of all areas and levels of the government. Due to this amendment to the Constitution of Canada, patients could take the Canadian state to court over their basic human right to access effective medication.
If you are interested in finding out how the Canadian Cannabis movement started in British Columbia and how the Charter or Rights and Freedoms enabled Canadians to change Cannabis laws that did not serve the public, watch this video with Canadian Lawyer, Rob Laurie speaking at the 2017 MardiGrass in Nimbin.
As Rob was suggesting in his talk above, Australia may need its own Charter to be able to initiate changes and hold the government responsible for refusing its citizens’ basic human right to effective pain relief and access to medication.
Just like Canadians, Australians overwhelmingly support the legalization of medical Cannabis. These days 92% of Australians support medical Cannabis and patients believe that the government missed the tipping point and lost touch with patients.
Recently arrested Deb Lynch, the Secretary of the MCUA shared with me that the Australian public knows how safe and effective Cannabis is and don’t believe the outdated propaganda anymore. In this age, everyone can search the internet and people can’t be so easily misled about Cannabis.
Australians watching the news about how the Canadian cannabis industry is going through the roof, and how they are legalizing Cannabis for all adults to use for wellness purposes surely think about why would the Australian government still try to portray Cannabis as a dangerous drug.
It is safe for all Canadians above 18 years of age, but is it dangerous for Aussies?
There is hope for Australians though and once the Aussie government acknowledges that it is on the wrong path with its Cannabis policy, the Canadian example will be right there to follow.
This would not be the first time for the Australian government to learn from Canadian leaders.
Back in the 1970’s when the current Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau’s Father Pierre Trudeau was the PM, Aussie Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam expressed admiration for Trudeau and encouraged his officials to learn about Canadian domestic policy initiatives.
Hopefully, now that the next generation of the Trudeau family is running Canada, Australia will once again look over the Pacific for inspiration, this time for its Cannabis policy.