In honour of today being April 20, my editor asked me to compile a list of VICE Australia's best stories about weed. You can imagine the stress headache that followed. Had anyone at VICE ever even written about marijuana before?
I anticipated hours of trawling through the archives, drowning in serious political analysis, desperate for even one short news story about ageing hippies in Nimbin being arrested for toking up in public.
But as I glanced up from my laptop to see my colleagues engaging in an impromptu office competition to see who could build the best DIY bong out of found objects, I realised I didn't need to worry. Perhaps, just maybe, there would be some pot-related content on the VICE website that I'd somehow overlooked.
To celebrate the international day of getting high, here's some of the best weed journalism VICE Australia has to offer.
Victoria becoming the first Australian state to allow legal cultivation of medicinal marijuana means people diagnosed with severe epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, or chronic pain associated with cancer, AIDS, or HIV will be available to access non-smokable products by 2017. This means the state will need a reliable source of weed, which it is currently planning to grow locally.
VICE contacted a spokesperson for Jaala Pulford, the Victorian Minister for Agriculture, as well as some guy called 'Rick' who grows bush weed illegally, and combined their expertise to assemble a guide to becoming a growing government-approved weed.
Langdon Brown, owner of Don Medicinal Cannabis, sells medicinal cannabis tinctures, oil, and hash dabs to around 1000 people in Victoria. His badly timed arrest came shortly after the Victorian government's October announcement that the state would legalise medicinal weed. VICE spoke to Langdon about Langdon about his business, the law, and how he feels about being arrested on the wrong side of medicinal weed history. By the way, Victoria passed its medical marijuana bill in February.
Dank Victorian grandmother Heather Gladman launched a hunger strike in Melbourne's Treasury Gardens after being arrested in February over her black market trade in medicinal weed. She faces a similar struggle to Langdon: even though medicinal weed will soon be legal in Victoria, she faces up to fifteen years in prison. Ahead of her court case, she staged a hunger strike and called for an amnesty for growers until medicinal licenses become available in 2017. To find out more, VICE spent an afternoon in the park chatting to Heather and her supporters.
Truly, the clusterfuck that is Australian state government anti-drug policy is best epitomised in the NSW government's Stoner Sloth, who I still think about often and fondly. The Stoner Sloth campaign is proof that state governments have no idea what to do about weed. They're legalising it for medicinal purposes, but they're afraid of it in literally any other context. And in the eyes of the Queensland government, there isn't a whole lot of difference between a recreational pothead and a Trainspotting-style junkie. Thanks to an amendment put forth by the state's Attorney-General Yvette D'ath, all illegal drugs will be lumped together under the same blanket legislation.
Australia's recent embrace of medicinal marijuana isn't entirely good news for stoners. Australia's legislation is also a far cry from the "medical marijuana" we've seen in certain states of America, where doctors prescribe cannabis for certain indicated conditions. Doctors in Australia will not be able to prescribe cannabis or cannabis-derived products, at least until more legislation is passed at the state level to regulate the supply. Not to be a downer on 4/20, but it's still worth booking that holiday to Colorado or Washington if you really want to enjoy the benefits of free and legal weed.
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