What regulations do we want, and how to get there?

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About: This panel will explore a range of legalisation hot spots including – roadside drug testing and treating cannabis the same as other prescription medicine, adult use, removing past cannabis convictions, fixing the medicinal cannabis scheme, and decriminalising psychedelics

“Currently legal cannabis is only available via a prescription from a doctor. This was not in our wildest dreams when we first asked for the laws to change. We wanted to be allowed to grow our own plants and be able to freely buy it if we don’t; we thought we’d be able to drive when unimpaired, same as for any drugs; and we hoped to create hemployment in a cottage industry rather than Big Cannabis taking over supply. How do we turn our dreams of a DIY Cannabis community model into reality?” Michael Balderstone, MardiGrass Head

Facilitator: David Heilpern, Drive Change Campaign

Legalise Cannabis Panelists:

Greens Panelists:

Speaker Biographies

Jeremy Buckingham: Over two decades I’ve been a passionate advocate for community, the environment and common-sense laws that serve the needs of the people. As an experienced MP with a reputation for honesty, conviction and commitment, it’s an honour and a privilege to serve the people of NSW. In this term, I am committed to bringing about progressive drug law reform, legalising cannabis, fixing the broken RDT system and growing the hemp industry. I am also focused on ensuring that we protect civil liberties, our environment and enact policies that look after the disadvantaged in our society.

David Ettershank: Before his election as an LCV member of the Legislation Council in the 2022 Victorian election, David was working in the consulting practice he co-founded, supporting not-for-profit aged care providers with strong links to specialist, CALD and regional services. David has qualifications in Asian Studies and Industrial Relations along with an additional 20 years of experience working in the labour movement as a training and industrial officer. Diagnosed with a chronic auto-immune condition, David is a long-term recreational and therapeutic cannabis consumer and knows first-hand how out-of-date and out-of-touch Victoria’s cannabis laws are. He is determined to see cannabis legalised, de-stigmatised, and its many benefits recognised for all adult Victorian consumers.

Cate Faehrmann is a Greens Member of the NSW Legislative Council. Her areas of policy interest include urgently needed drug law reform. In 2021, Cate introduced An Act to amend the [NSW] Road Transport Act 2013 to exclude users of medicinal cannabis from the offence relating to driving with the presence of certain drugs in a person’s oral fluid. Cate has admitted to the personal use of recreational drugs, including cannabis and medicinal CBD products and has been leading a campaign to Rethink Reform drug laws as the Greens Drug Law Reform spokesperson.

David Heilpern was appointed as a Magistrate in 1998, and was at the time the youngest magistrate in Australia. Since “retiring” in May 2020, he has resumed private practice as a solicitor, as well as returning to Southern Cross University as an adjunct and practice professor. David is committed to speaking out about drug law reform, particularly the drug driving detection laws, to ensure that drug laws change to reflect the principles of harm reduction. In particular, he believes that harm is only increased by applying a law and order model to victimless crimes.

Sue Higginson is a Greens MLC in the NSW Parliament driven by social and environmental justice. Her journey started in the old-growth forests of the North Coast as a frontline activist and her passion for protecting our precious native forests is just as strong today. Sue is in the NSW Parliament to bring in laws that protect First Nations people and their culture, to end logging in our public native forests and the destruction of nature, and to challenge the corporate interests that want coal and gas mining extended and expanded in communities across our state.

Fiona Patten is the leader of the Reason Party and was a member of the Victorian Legislative Council between 2014 and 2022, until she lost her seat at the 2022 state election. She recently received an honourable mentioned by the McKinnon Prize Shortlisting Committee, an independent, non-partisan award that acknowledges outstanding political leadership across the political spectrum. Patten established the Australian Sex Party in 2009 to focus on personal freedoms after deep frustration with stagnation on censorship, Marriage Equality and drug law reform. In 2017, the Australian Sex Party changed its name to the Reason Party. During her time as a Victorian MP, Fiona has been credited for playing pivotal roles in achieving social reforms in Victoria, with examples including the passage of Victoria’s assisted dying legislation, and the trial of a medically supervised drug injecting room in Richmond.

Rachel Payne is the Member for South-Eastern Metropolitan Region in Victorian Parliament’s Legislative Council. A member of Legalise Cannabis, Rachel was first elected to the upper house in 2022 when the party gained its first two seats in the Victorian parliament. Holding the balance of power from the Victorian crossbench, Rachel’s focus is on progressive cannabis law reform, harm minimisation and protecting the rights of cannabis consumers. Before politics, Rachel held executive, management, policy and research roles for organisations such as Eros Association, Family Court Australia and Centrelink. A longstanding advocate for women’s health, equality and inclusivity and proud member of the LGBTIQ+ community, Rachel is now driving a conversation around cannabis as a catalyst for new economic opportunities, environmental ingenuity and creation.

David Shoebridge is a member of the Australian Greens and was elected to the Senate as the party’s lead candidate in New South Wales at the 2022 federal election. He previously served in the New South Wales Legislative Council from 2010 to 2022. David is a recognised voice for social justice and public accountability. “It is an extraordinary privilege to represent the Greens in Parliament and to have the capacity to focus on the common good rather than corporate interests.”

Dr Brian Walker: I am a member of the Legislative Council in the Parliament of Western Australia for the Legalise Cannabis Party. I practised medicine for many years in many different countries, before finally settling into practice as a GP at Serpentine Medical Centre. I have front-line experience treating patients in hospitals, emergency departments, and general practice, including specialising in helping those who come to me seeking help obtaining Cannabis as a natural alternative to opioid-based medication to ease their pain and suffering.

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