Federal Election 2019: Meet Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP)

Summary

Website: https://australianhempparty.com/
https://hemp.org.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AustralianHempParty
Slogans:
It’s not what it looks like!  We can explain.  (Currently winning the Cate Speaks award for the most inadvertently ludicrous slogan)
Themes: Legalising cannabis, which is apparently going to save our economy, improve our nutrition and revolutionise medicine.  Possibly the most disorganised political party website so far.
Electorate:
QLD, NSW, NT, SA, TAS, VIC
Preferences: HEMP is all about the freedom, man.  Their how to vote card advises you to look for the leaf, and then says:

Choose six boxes above the line.  Number in the order you like.

Previous reviews

Policies & Commentary

I’ll be honest here.  I have a lot of trouble taking this political party seriously.  I’m trying really, really hard not to stereotype them, but they are so flakey and disorganised that it’s difficult.  So difficult. For one thing, they have two websites, which have a lot of overlap, but aren’t identical.  I have no idea why anyone would do this.  (Maybe because the grass is greener on the other site?) (Sorry.) (Nope, not actually sorry.)

Anyway, it doesn’t look like a competing-rival-branches scenario, it just looks like a couple of different people both said ‘sure, I’ll be the website manager’, and then whoever was coming up with content sent it to both of them, except occasionally when they didn’t, and they each arranged their website according to their own whim.

(Also, there are some very random things on this site.  I mean, all cannabis themed, but very random from a political party perspective.)

I have a headache, and I’ve barely started reviewing this lot.

Fortunately, cannabis apparently cures everything including headaches.  Alas, I am a law-abiding soul, and am thus not in possession of any cannabis.  It’s probably for the best.

Oh, wait, half of the links and pages on one site lead back to the other site.  Bloody hell.  This really is winning the award for the most disorganised website(s) I’ve seen so far.  I think I’ll stick with the hemp.org.au one, because that seems to be where the policies are.

OK, let’s see if I can make sense of this, though you’ve probably already grasped the basics – HEMP wants to legalise cannabis because cannabis is amazing, man.

The front page of the hemp.org.au site (I can’t believe I’m comparing sites) begins with the following ambitious statement:

THE WHOLE PLANT

Vote 1 HEMP to re-legalise and regulate personal, medical and industrial use.

The HEMP Party has a plan to integrate the whole plant into our everyday lives for medicine, food security, the environment and social harmony.

Interestingly, they describe voting for them in the election as ‘the protest vote to re-legalise home-grown Cannabis.’  I am trying to remember if I’ve ever seen a political party describe themselves explicitly as a protest-vote party before.  It seems like an unusual strategy, and not one that I would expect to be crowned with success.  Then again, they are clearly going for the counter-cultural hippy vote, so perhaps this will have more appeal than I think.

We then move on to a section called ‘Let’s do Cannabis better’, in which we are told that

  • Cannabis as medicine and therapy could reinvent the health system.
  • Complete protein and polyunsaturated fats are an essential part of our diet.
  • The hemp plant can address environmental concerns on CO2 levels and soil reparation
  • Currently we waste millions of tax-payer dollars trying to enforce prohibition.
  • A regulated market would redirect funding to education, health and harm reduction.

Hmm.  Look, I’m with them on the last two points, and the third one might be true, though I doubt it is the entire solution to that particular problem, but I am deeply skeptical of the first two.  I mean, cannabis is supposedly quite good for pain relief, among other things, but there hasn’t been a lot of research on this, largely because it hasn’t been a legal option.  Don’t get me wrong – I would absolutely support research into therapeutic uses for cannabinoids, but I really don’t think they have enough data to support their assertion about reinventing the health system.  And I say this as someone who has spent most of the last month reading funding applications for medical research grants, and believe you me, I have seen my share of ambitious assertions.

As for nutritional benefits, I’m assuming they are talking about hemp seeds, not hash brownies, but again, I don’t think cannabis is the entire solution here.

Scrolling further down their page – did I mention that this is a painfully disorganised website? – we have a link to policies, to which I will return shortly, some cartoons linking to laws on cannabis, and then some more ambitious assertions.  Cannabis is apparently the number one plant for food, fuel, fibre, medicine, cosmetics, and of course, recreation.  Apparently, hemp seeds have more protein than beef, as well as Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids; cannabis can provide clean energy; it’s a stronger and more biodegradable fabric than cotton; makes superior cosmetics; is a healthier recreation option than alcohol; and a ‘Safer choice than pharmaceuticals and less toxic as a prevention & cure for illness and disease’.

I would like to see their preliminary data.  Also, which illness and diseases do they have in mind?  All of them?  Please be specific.

Honestly, this is so frustrating to read, because they mingle sensible claims with utterly ridiculous ones.  I think they make some good points on fibre, and probably on cosmetics.  From what I gather, cannabis is indeed a healthier option than alcohol (though if you smoke it, it’s as bad as, if not worse, for your lungs as nicotine), and I don’t know enough to argue with the fuel thing.  And it is definitely annoying that hemp seed is considered an illegal foodstuff.  But I’m pretty sure man cannot live on hemp seed alone, nutritionally speaking, and the medical stuff is just over the top.  And that irritates me, because I’d like to see cannabis legalised, but there are so many evidence-based reasons to do so, and that’s not what I’m seeing here.

A quick break from my irritation to look at their Federal Election 2019 page, where we get a slightly more reasonable manifesto.

Cannabis prohibition has failed, it has caused much more harm than good. Cannabis prohibition is continuing to cause confusion and places an increasingly significant number of Australians with acute and chronic medical conditions in an appalling situation.

Better Cannabis legislation will improve our health, nutrition, policing and the annual budget. Cannabis can provide a better solution for medicine, food security, the environment and social harmony.

The HEMP Party has a plan to integrate the whole plant into our everyday lives.

A little over the top, but it could be worse.  And then they tell you how to find them on the Senate ballot papers, and it is both daggy and hilarious.  In NSW, they are ‘Group B for Buds’.  In Queensland they are ‘Group N for Natural’.   In Victoria and WA, they are ‘Group J for Joints’.  In SA they are ‘Group I for Indica’, in Tasmania, ‘Group M for Medical Marijuana’, and in the Northern Territory, they are ‘Group F for Freedom’.

(In the ACT, they are Group W, for We Couldn’t Find Anyone to Run, or possibly group C for Could the Government Actually Function Any Worse if they were Doped Up to the Eyeballs?)

They mention some key policies here; they view testing for Cannabis impairment in drivers as ridiculously unfair, given how long THC stays in the system, and want a ‘No Impairment, No Fine’ rule, which sounds reasonable, though we’d need to all agree on some objective rules for testing impairment. Because I don’t think we have anything useful like that for alcohol yet, so it’s clearly not as simple as they imagine.

(They also make the unlikely assertion that ‘Cannabis has never killed anyone in ten thousand years of use and needs to be separated and treated completely differently to the other illegal drugs,’ which may be true in a direct sense, but is definitely not true once you start looking at things like the association between cannabis and some mental illnesses, let alone lung cancer or people driving under the influence.  Cannabis is probably less toxic than nicotine or alcohol, and deserves a similar legislative approach, but let’s not pretend that any psychoactive substance will ever be completely safe.)

A second policy is letting people grow their own cannabis ‘at least six plants each for adults over 18’, which sounds like a lot, but I have no idea what a reasonable crop looks like.

Aargh, I’ve just realised that they have two separate policy pages on their first website, and I haven’t even reached their second website yet!  Seriously, people, get your act together!  (Or… is this further evidence for the association of cannabis usage with memory loss?) (I’m sorry, this website is driving me mad, and I’m feeling snarky.)

Let’s start with what seems to be the main policy page, which starts with the following five bullet points:

  • to re-legalise and regulate Cannabis for personal, medical and industrial use.
  • to allow for health education, home growing, and regulated sales through registered outlets which will separate Cannabis from the criminality of the black-market and end consequent associated corruption.
  • to allow medical use, utilising Cannabis’ painkilling, relaxing, anti nausea and healing properties.
  • to establish a commercial hemp industry producing fuel, fibre, paper, textiles, food, oil and other environmentally sound products.
  • to release all those imprisoned for Cannabis alone and the removal of all records of previous criminal Cannabis convictions.

Actually, those all sound pretty good, with the caveat that I want proper research before we allow medical use, and I want to know what ‘health education’ actually means in this context, because if it’s all about how cannabis is less toxic than your prescribed medication for X condition, I am definitely not there for that.

Because whoever is doing HEMP’s website has a very short attention span, we then wander off into another spiel about the federal election.  They do want to ‘actively encourage fast-track research and development’ into the hemp food, fuel and fibre industries, which sounds reasonable.

Then, presumably because they want to make me cry, they link to their other policy pages, which are about making hemp seed legal as food, and about removing cannabis convictions.

Reasonable, but short of demanding compensation for wrongful punishment.

HEMP says;

End prohibition
to release all those imprisoned for Cannabis alone and the removal of all records of previous criminal Cannabis convictions.

Measuring the cost of prohibition on society is a complicated equation. For an individual, there are the denied opportunities and social stigma of a criminal record.

Some form of compensation seems reasonable to ask for those who use Cannabis for medical purposes and have been convicted of a crime.

So… do they want compensation or not?

Seriously, these people are not clear thinkers.  (Is clear thinking a supposed benefit of cannabis consumption?  I trust not…)

Back to the first policy page, and the About page, which is also sort of a policy page, there is also a theme of ‘we need to legalise marijuana because keeping it illegal creates all sorts of money laundering, discrimination, and corruption opportunities’, and I think they have a point here.  They also make noises about how if you legalise cannabis, you can tax it, and use that tax to do cool things.  See, and this bit is quite good:

OUTCOMES – Cannabis: Suggestions for Reform

  • More community involvement in decision making around local issues concerning drug use
  • Abolish the offence of using Cannabis
  • Decriminalise possession of small quantities of Cannabis
  • Decriminalise personal cultivation of Cannabis
  • Legalise possession of Cannabis for genuine medical reasons
  • Address issues of public consumption of Cannabis through community policing (eg: “drug free zones”)
  • Provide more funds for treatment services

This would result in:

  • bringing down the black market price of Cannabis to less than heroin
  • less crime and less police and court time wasted
  • Cannabis users being more likely to discuss their use with doctors
    less tobacco addictions
  • the community having greater influence over appropriate behaviour
  • police having more discretion in dealing with individuals
  • less rejection and alienation of young people

It’s not that their ideas are terrible.  It’s that they are completely disorganised about how they express them.

And that’s it.  Oh boy.  I feel bad about being so sarcastic throughout this post, but rarely have I encountered a party for which I had simultaneously so much sympathy and so much exasperation.  I agree, 100%, that criminalising cannabis does us no good as a society.  It’s expensive, it’s harmful, it prevents us from exploring any legitimate benefits that might be found in the plant.  I’m absolutely in favour of decriminalisation of growing marijuana for personal use, and of finding better ways to assess impairment in those who use it, and I’m certainly in favour of medical research to figure out what benefits it might have.

But I don’t think it furthers the cause to make wild, over-the-top claims, and it certainly doesn’t further your cause when your website is so confusing and disorganised that it makes even a sympathetic reviewer wince.  HEMP strike me as lovely, well-intentioned hippies, who couldn’t organise their way out of a paper sack.  They don’t belong in Parliament by any stretch of the imagination, but given some of the other parties on the ballot paper, I suspect they are going to wind up in the top half of mine, if not in the top third.

Eurovision Theme Song as determined by me, very objectively

Oh, I have *just* the song for this lot.  There were these adorable hippie Latvians back in 2014, who sang about how they had been talking to unicorns and doing the moonwalk on the milky way and making it rain in the desert, and now they’ve got a cake to bake.

Sounds like someone has a case of the munchies to me.  Or maybe it’s all about the secret ingredient?

Mix some dough, add some love, let it bake, wait for it…

Love.  Yes, that’s definitely the secret ingredient I meant.

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