Cannabis political parties
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In 2013, the Drug Law Reform Party successfully registered with the Australian Electoral Commission, with over 500 members as required. Although the party represents the liberalisation of drug laws in general, cannabis remains a primary focus (http://www.druglawreform.com.au/).
In the 1970s, J.J. McRoach ran for parliament as candidate for the Australian Marijuana Party. He had an advertising campaign funded by an anonymous dealer. His party came fourth in the elections. In 1986 Nick Brash ran for the “Marijuana Party” for the Kiama NSW by-election against ALP heavy-weight Bob “Bobo” Harrison. Then in 1987 Nick Brash ran in the Heathcote NSW by-election with 13 other candidates including the infamous Rex “Buckets” Jackson. This campaign was partly funded by the late John Marsden, solicitor and outspoken civil libertarian. In the 1988 NSW State Election he joined Macciza Macpherson in running for the Legislative Council Soon after, the electoral laws were changed requiring all political parties to prove a membership of 500 enrolled voters, an impossible task for the Marijuana Party. The independent HEMP Legalise Marijuana party continues to run in the upper house in South Australian legislative elections, with their best result being in 1997 when they received 1.7% of the vote, beating relatively popular parties such as the SA Greens and the SA branch of the National Party of Australia. The Party was founded in 1993 and has a constitution, which describes an organisation with the aim of endorsing candidates to contest elections to the Federal Parliament of Australia.
More recently, the HEMP Party (Help End Marijuana Prohibition) was first registered in 2000, and then de-registered in 2006 under Schedule 3 of the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Act 2006. During that time candidates stood in state and federal elections. Since that time it has been difficult to prove a membership of 500, as members contacted by the AEC (Australian Electoral Commission) sometimes disavowed membership, or had changed address without notifying the Party or the AEC.
Several applications later the AEC has assessed the party as meeting the test of being a political party under s4 of the Electoral Act. On 17 June 2010 the delegate determined that the party's application had passed its initial consideration for registration and the application was advertised for public objection on 23 June 2010. The issue of writs on 19 July 2010 for the federal elections meant that no further action could be taken on this application until the final return of all outstanding writs on 17 September 2010. No objections to the registration of the HEMP Party were received. The AEC assessed the party's application against the technical requirements in s126(2) of the Electoral Act. The application meets the technical requirements in s126(2). The delegate of the Australian Electoral Commission determined that the HEMP Party should therefore be registered under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918.
In Canada, the Marijuana Party of Canada was launched by Marc-Boris St-Maurice as a follow up to the Québécois Bloc pot in February 2000 to work at the federal level. There are also other party organizations at the provincial level. The Liberal Party of Canada adopted a pot legalization policy at their recent party convention.
The Saskatchewan Marijuana Party functions in a politically independent fashion, and does not hold any formal association to any other political organizations federally or provincially. On April 20 of 2006, the party submitted their petition of registration to elections Saskatchewan. The petition was successful and the party was fully registered as a political party in the province of Saskatchewan as of June 7, 2006.
The party leader is currently Nathan Holowaty. Nathan Holowaty has referred to himself as a socially responsible libertarian and believes in the full scale legalization of cannabis. Nathan has a degree in political studies from the University of Saskatchewan.
In Quebec, the Québécois Bloc pot, created by Marc-Boris St-Maurice, ran their first election campaign in 1998. In February 2000, the party launched the Marijuana Party of Canada which ran 73 candidates in the 2000 federal election. Bloc pot is now the provincial counterpart of the Marijuana Party of Canada.
In France, the party "Cannabis sans frontières" (Cannabis Without Borders) has participated in European elections in 2009 and received 0.14% (4015 votes).
In Ireland, there were attempts to establish a Cannabis legalisation Party however the government have so far refused to allow any such parties to be registered. A number of individuals including journalist Olaf Tyaransen and Phoenix Park festival organiser Ubi Dwyer have stood in various elections (national, Local and European) as independent candidates on a legalise cannabis platform. The only success to date has been the election of Luke 'Ming' Flanagan to The Dáil in the 2011 General Election although it is generally accepted that Flannigan's success was also mainly due to his stance on other political issues.
Recently, the group Legalise Cannabis Ireland has been building a campaign to legalise cannabis in Ireland. It organised the first cannabis march in Ireland and was the only group to provide information about contaminated cannabis or 'grit weed' in Ireland. It is currently building membership to become a registered political party.
In New Zealand, the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party ran for the first time in 1996. They have never had any Members of Parliament, but have averaged around 1% of the popular vote - one fifth of what is necessary to gain MPs under New Zealand's proportional representation system. A former member, Nandor Tanczos, was an MP as part of the New Zealand Green Party (1999–2008). (He was also New Zealand's first ever Rastafarian Member of Parliament). The party had candidates in the 2008 general election.
The New Zealand Green Party maintains a cannabis-reform policy, focused around decriminalisation.
On 22 September 2009, the political party DnC or Det norske Cannabispartiet was registered in Stavanger by Even Ganja Helland and Sigbjørn Eskeland, both from Jørpeland, Norway.
In Spain, the Partido Cannabis participated in the Spanish general election, 2004, by standing candidates for seats in the Cortes in three provinces, (Valencia, Alicante and Valladolid). They scored between 0.35% and 1.11% of votes cast.
In the United Kingdom, the Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA), registered as a political party from 1999 to 2006, with Alun Buffry as its leader-for-the-purpose-of-registration-only, fielding candidates in elections to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and to local government councils. The LCA de-registered itself as a political party, and continues to work as a pressure group.
The party drew inspiration from the performances of Howard Marks and Buster Nolan as independent legalise cannabis candidates in the 1997 general election. (Howard Marks stood in four different constituencies of the House of Commons.) The LCC, Legalise Cannabis Campaign, founded in the late 60s acted as a pressure group throughout the 1970s and 80s and provided a seedbed of support for these later political manifestations.
By the time of the 2001 general election the party had experience of campaigns in two House of Commons by-elections and various local government elections. In the general election the party contested 13 constituencies and their share of the vote ranged from 1.1% to 2.5%.
In January 2004, cannabis prohibition in the UK was relaxed. Cannabis had been a class B substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. It became a class C substance, and many people saw this change as virtual 'decriminalisation'. It was a long way short of full legalisation. It has recently returned to a class B substance.
The LCA contested 21 constituencies in the 2005 general election. Their share of the vote ranged from 0.6% to 1.8%, falling significantly from its previous levels, presumably because reclassification of cannabis had made the case for legalisation less pressing.
The Legalise Cannabis Alliance has now re-registered as a political party, under a new identity of CLEAR - Cannabis Law Reform
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In the United States, both the Libertarian Party and the Green Party advocate for the legalization of marijuana. There is also the United States Marijuana Party that has local chapters in 29 states, as well as state-level parties. Members associated with the US Marijuana Party have run for office, including Edward Forchion (for multiple offices) and candidates from the Marijuana Reform Party (for governor).
In July 2014, a YouGov.com poll concluded that 61 percent of Americans supported the Colorado law that makes recreational marijuana use legal but applies a heavy tax on marijuana sales, limits the sale of marijuana only to people 21 years old or older, and makes it illegal to take marijuana out of state.
According to the poll, sixty-eight percent of Democrats, 60 percent of independents and 52 percent of Republicans said they supported the law.
New York State
In New York State, in 1998 and 2002, the Marijuana Reform Party of New York State ran candidates for governor and other statewide offices. In 2004, a federal judge held that, by running candidates in 1998 and 2002 statewide elections, the Marijuana Reform Party demonstrated a "modicum of support" sufficient to entitle it to an injunction compelling the state board of elections to recognize the party and allow voters to enroll in it. It is viable in New York State because of its unique fusion political system.
- "Help End Marijuana Prohibition: HEMP Party". Australianhempparty.com. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
- See The Saskatchewan Marijuana Party
- Swanson, Emily. "Even Republicans Support Colorado's Marijuana Legalization Law." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 15 July 2014. Web. 30 July 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/15/marijuana-poll_n_5588147.html>.
- People United for Medical Marijuana - Florida at www.PUFMM.org
- "The Legalize Marijuana Party". Tlmp.org. Retrieved 2011-04-20.