A minor party in the West Australian parliament hopes that an inquiry into cannabis will help open the way to wider acceptance of medicinal cannabis and the use of other cannabis and hemp products.
In an interview with the Rationalist Society of Australia, Sophia Moermond MLC, from the Legalise Cannabis WA Party, said law reform in this space would deliver significant health and economic benefits to her state.
The party is pushing for the full legalisation of cannabis for recreational use and for Western Australia to become a leader in the industrial production of cannabis and hemp products.
The current Legislative Council inquiry focuses, however, on medicinal cannabis and barriers to wider availability, plus the potential benefits and risks of permitting industrial hemp for human consumption.
Public submissions to the Legislative Council’s Select Committee into Cannabis and Hemp can be made by Friday 7 January.
Ms Moermond was one of two Legalise Cannabis Party members elected to the upper house at the March 2021 election. The other member, Dr Brian Walker MLC, is chairing the Select Committee Inquiry into Cannabis and Hemp.
Ms Moermond was hopeful that the inquiry would develop a wider acceptance of how cannabis and hemp products could benefit the state.
“It’s really important that those people who chose to use cannabis medicinally will have access to it, even as a first option. The other thing is that we are, I feel, at the cusp in WA of starting a burgeoning, massive hemp industry. We need investors, we need the government to support that,” she said.
“WA has very little manufacturing – Australia has very little manufacturing anymore. Our portfolio is incredibly limited. To create that economic stability, we need that diversification.
“Mining is neither sustainable nor environmentally friendly. A hemp industry would be able to make hemp plastics, hemp cosmetics, hemp foods, hemp paper, hemp clothes, hemp building materials – there’s a whole range of products that can be made.”
Ms Moermond said it was only “a matter of time” until cannabis would be legalised for recreational use, noting that a number of Labor MPs had spoken in favour of it in the past.
The RSA supports a well-planned and structured legalisation of cannabis for recreational use, balancing scientific realities and community concerns.
In 2020, the RSA surveyed its members as part of a submission to a Victorian inquiry, finding that the overwhelming majority believed cannabis should be categorised as a soft drug – like alcohol – instead of a hard drug, and its misuse treated as a health issue instead of a criminal one.
The Legalise Cannabis Party has also signalled its intention to have Christian prayer rituals removed from the daily proceedings of the Legislative Council.
Si Gladman is Campaigns & Communications Coordinator at the Rationalist Society of Australia. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @si_gladman