NOT so long ago, anyone campaigning for a parliamentary seat on a cannabis reform ticket would congratulate themselves on a job well done if they secured enough votes to get their deposit back.
But with two Legalise Cannabis Party representatives elected to the Western Australian Legislative Council in March 2021, and two of the party's candidates elected to the Victorian Legislative Council last November, the party has high hopes for the NSW Legislative Council at the March 25 poll.
At Bar Beach in NSW's Hunter region on Monday morning, the party parked the "chariot of hope" - a converted horse float emblazoned with a painting of Newcastle cannabis campaigners BJ Futter and Karen Burge - for a campaign promotion with lead upper house candidate, former Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham.
Ms Burge is in fifth position on the party's 18-candidate upper house ticket, and the party is contesting 23 of the 93 seats in the lower house, the Legislative Assembly.
In this region, the candidates are Tim Claydon in Newcastle, Andrew Fenwick in Cessnock, Daniel Dryden in Maitland, Keys Manley in Myall Lakes and Tom Lillicrap in Upper Hunter.
Mr Buckingham, who served eight years in the upper house from 2011 to 2019, said yesterday that the Legalise Cannabis Party was confident of winning an upper house seat on March 25.
He said the election of candidates in WA and Victoria showed that public sentiment was far ahead of traditional government attitudes when it came to the use of cannabis.
Although the Coalition state government under Mike Baird began to legislate for medicinal cannabis reform, Mr Buckingham said there was still an enormous distance to go.
"The government has handed medicinal cannabis over to corporations and put the rest of the story, including broader cannabis law reform, in the too-hard basket," Mr Buckingham said.
"There are many people who want to grow their own medicinal cannabis, who don't want to use the corporate regime the government has put in place.
"There are disincentives as far as doctors prescribing are concerned, with drug-driving laws looking only at the presence of cannabis in someone's system, not whether they are impaired or not."
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Mr Buckingham said "vested interests" - from the alcohol industry to cotton growers fearing competition from hemp - had worked against cannabis law reform.
Ms Burge said she was determined to "see an end to prohibition".
"The US demonised cannabis, but now it's legal in more than 20 states there and it's time the same was done in Australia," Ms Burge said.
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