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As 34 per cent of the votes are counted, Legalise Cannabis Australia has emerged as a vote winner for the Senate, performing well in several states across the country.
ABC News reports that the party formerly known as Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party has earned 74,972 Senate votes so far, picking 7.5 per cent of the vote in Northern Territory and 3.9 per cent in Western Australia.
The party earned 6.7 per cent in Queensland, 3.4 per cent in Victoria and 3 per cent in New South Wales as of yesterday, Sunday (May 22) midday.
United Australia Party spent more than $100 million and polled worse than the Legalise Cannabis Party 😅 #ausvotes— Luke Buckmaster (@lukebuckmaster) May 22, 2022
The party, which is headquartered at the Nimbin Hemp Embassy, stands for cannabis to be treated the same way as tobacco and alcohol.
They hope to establish a legal and regulated cannabis market by dismissing all personal-use cannabis criminal records, an immediate moratorium on all arrests of cannabis consumers, Road Safety laws to be amended for medicinal users and a state-based licensing system covering all commercial operations, including production, manufacturing, and retail.
Party president Michael Balderstone, who has been involved with the party’s origins in northern New South Wales since the mid-90s, told ABC News initially the party wasn’t taken seriously, as many weren’t privy to the medicinal benefits of marijuana.
"They mocked us for a long time, you know, for saying cannabis is a medicine – we were ridiculed," he said.
"Now it's accepted and anyone in Australia can get legal medical cannabis through their doctor, but it's pretty much grown in Canada or grown indoors."
He added: "We could all be growing our own medicine."
Growing support for the party is also attributed to the changing attitudes around cannabis, as 41 per cent of Australians are for legalisation, according to the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.
The results recorded in 2019 doubled the number of Australians who showed support for the decriminalisation of cannabis in 2007, which was 21 per cent.
Support could also be due to the pandemic, as Australians were consuming cannabis in record-breaking numbers, as per the latest national wastewater drug monitoring report released by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
The report found that cannabis consumption was at an all-time high in New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia in August 2021.
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