A politician leading the charge to legalise cannabis as a tribute to his son who took his own life is on the verge of claiming a seat in the NSW Parliament.
Legalise Cannabis Party candidate and former Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham re-entered politics after four years in memory of his son Eden.
Eden, 23, was found dead in bushland last August after telling his parents he ‘suffered the most evil abuse’ at the hands of a relative as a young boy.
He struggled with depression and drug addiction as a result and his dad wants cannabis legalised as an alternative treatment to opiates.
Legalise Cannabis Party candidate Jeremy Buckingham is on the verge of claiming a seat in the NSW Parliament
Mr Buckingham led his party’s Legislative Council ticket at the NSW election on Saturday and has 0.84 quotas so far, very close to the threshold required for a seat.
Legalise Cannabis has 3.8 per cent of the upper house vote, more than any other minor party besides the Greens (9.5 per cent) and One Nation (5.7 per cent).
Counting will continue for many days to come, with only 60 per cent tallied so far, and Mr Buckingham wasn’t yet ready to claim victory.
‘We’re cautiously optimistic we can secure a spot,’ he said, noting the party got about 10 per cent of the vote on the mid-north coast.
Election analyst Ben Raue said the party could form part of a progressive majority in the upper house by pulling in votes from Liberal-leaning citizens.
‘Legalise Cannabis, Liberal Democrats, and the Shooters are clearly in front, with Animal Justice in a close contest with the coalition for the final seat,’ he said.
Mr Buckingham during the campaign said Premier Dominic Perrottet and Labor leader Chris Minns were too conservative for modern Australia after they ruled out decriminalising marijuana for recreational use during the debate.
‘The major parties have got their heads in the sand,’ he told Daily Mail Australia after watching the debate.
‘The legalisation of cannabis is inevitable and the rise of the Legalise Cannabis Party is indicative of a growing awareness in Australia that it is the sensible rational thing to do.
‘We can reduce harm, save money, and free up a drug that millions of Australians use both recreationally and for medicine.’
Mr Buckingham pointed to Hawaii voting to legalise marijuana on Tuesday, and numerous other US states and countries that made the switch years ago.
He also noted recent polling showed a majority of Australians for the first time wanted recreational cannabis legalised, and surveys showed most had tried it.
‘The major parties are making a massive mistake by continuing with prohibition, which is expensive, pushes it into the hands of criminals and the black market. That’s a mistake and everyone in Australia knows it,’ he said.
‘Millions of Australians have tried cannabis and thousands in NSW use it – they should not be criminalised and we should not be wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars on a pointless war that hasn’t worked.’
Mr Buckingham’s son Eden, 23, (pictured) took his own life last August a day after revealing he had been abused by a relative, and his dad wants to legalise marijuana as a tribute to him
Mr Buckingham said he wasn’t surprised both leaders ruled out legalisation because they were both ‘very conservative and have their heads in the sand’.
He said this position was to both their detriment as it was out of touch with what NSW voters, particularly younger ones, wanted.
‘Young people, especially, recognise that cannabis use and be safe if it’s well regulated,’ he said.
‘Ultimately the major parties are going to have to change their position.’
Mr Buckingham said if he and others in his party were elected at the March 25 election, they would push for both the legalisation of cannabis and the reform of roadside drug testing laws that ‘unfairly impact on people who are using legally prescribed medicinal cannabis’.
Tragedy behind push for legal weed
Mr Buckingham lost his boy Eden, aged just 23, last August after a long struggle with depression and drug addiction.
Eden was found dead in bushland after telling his parents he ‘suffered the most evil abuse’ at the hands of a relative before he was even a teenager.
Eden’s death prompted Mr Buckingham’s return to politics after four years as he hopes to provide an alternative to opiates for young people suffering mental illness and chronic pain.
‘The struggle my son had with his mental health issues was very, very difficult and he was on various medications, opiates, that I don’t think did him any good whatsoever,’ he said.
Mr Buckingham said ‘every day was a struggle’ since his son’s suicide, and he didn’t want another family to go through what his did.
‘It’s been, and will continue to be, a dark and and tragic circumstance. I love my son, I miss him every day,’ he said.
He described his ‘beautiful, golden boy’ as a sensitive and intelligent ‘warrior’ and sharing news of his death were ‘the hardest, unbearable words’.
‘Eden couldn’t live with his truth, telling us a day before he passed that he had suffered the most evil abuse from a relative,’ Mr Buckingham wrote in an emotional Facebook post after his death.
‘His trust, faith and hope were shattered. He couldn’t live with the secret shame and guilt, and couldn’t live with the truth revealed.
‘He said he didn’t want to be the guy that this had happened to. It was too much for him. I understand and am not angry at him. I know why.’
Mr Buckingham previously told Daily Mail Australia that Australia was ‘far behind’ many Western democracies that legalised marijuana years ago, and the drug was less dangerous than other legal ones.
‘The government makes a fortune out of alcohol and tobacco taxes, and there’s incredible harm from that,’ he said.
‘When was the last time you saw two stoned people having a punch-up in a car park? Never.
‘But how many people who’ve had 14 cans of rum have you seen having a ding-dong in the Maccas car park?’
Mr Buckingham said it was ‘inevitable’ Australia would soon legalise marijuana, and it would happen faster if voters supported his party.
‘We’re riding a wave [of support] with two people elected in WA and Victoria and we have confidence about NSW… and a majority of Australians support legalisation,’ he said.
‘It won’t happen overnight but it won’t take forever. We need to build consensus but don’t want to get bogged down in inquiries – the research is being done overseas.’
He hoped for a progressive upper house that wouldn’t be dominated by MPs who ‘have their heads in the sand with a just-say-no approach that doesn’t work’.
‘Whoever forms government should be looking at this – even conservative states in the US are legalising cannabis because it’s a freedom issue, people should be free to enjoy their lives with a plant that’s humans have been using for thousands of years,’ he said.
Eden’s death prompted Mr Buckingham’s return to politics after four years as he hopes to provide an alternative to opiates for young people suffering mental illness and chronic pain
Mr Buckingham called the war on cannabis one of the most catastrophic policy failures in Australian history that needed to end quickly.
‘We’ve wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on a senseless and damaging war on cannabis. It’s needlessly criminalised tens of thousands of people for no reduction in harm,’ he said.
He had particular disdain for draconian drug driving laws that punished even medical cannabis patients if they failed a roadside saliva test as long as a month after they last used it.
‘With alcohol you can have a glass of wine or mid-strength beer and drive, but if you have a small trace of a legal cannabis prescription for chronic illness three days later you can lose your licence and be fined even though you’re not impaired, it’s ridiculous,’ he said.
‘Australia is way behind, Canada and US states like California legalised cannabis more than five years ago and studies show there was no corresponding spike in drug-related accidents. If anything, they show marijuana users are slightly better drivers.
‘There are many tests that measure impairment, and that is what we should be moving to – not ones that catch people taking medicine.’
Mr Buckingham said research overseas showed more people tried marijuana when it was legalised, but there were only a small number of additional, regular users
‘We don’t want kids using it, and if you have well-formed legislation you’re far more able to protect and educate young people young people,’ he said.
‘That’s a far more effective way to deal with an issue that isn’t going away because Australians use cannabis.’
Mr Buckingham called the war on cannabis one of the most catastrophic policy failures in Australian history that needed to end quickly
Mr Buckingham was a member of the NSW Legislative Council from 2011 to 2019. He was a Greens member from 2011 to 2018, but resigned from the party in December 2018.
Announcing his return to politics, he said he was fighting for the common sense change that California, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Thailand and soon the ACT had already moved to – and it was now time for NSW.
‘I believe that current laws criminalising cannabis use and possession are not only costly and ineffective but also unjust. They disproportionately affect the sick, the young and Indigenous Australians,’ he said.
‘The legalisation of recreational cannabis for adult use would create a significant industry and employer, whilst massively reducing the burden and cost of prohibition on the community and criminal justice system.’
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Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk