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A different shade of green: Legalise Cannabis Party pushing Pauline Hanson for Senate spot

Whether it's a protest vote or a genuine change in sentiment, the Legalise Cannabis Australia party is enjoying an uptick across all Australian jurisdictions.

Senator Pauline Hanson could is being closely trailed by the Legalise Cannabis Australia Party.

As Greens leader Adam Bandt hails a “greenslide” in Queensland, there could be another green shift in the upper house as Legalise Cannabis Australia sees an uptick in all Australian jurisdictions. In Queensland, the jump is so high that the party is closely following Pauline Hanson's One Nation party (PHON), which has Senator Hanson first on its ticket. With 34 per cent of votes counted in the state, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) was on Monday afternoon reporting 87,613 votes for PHON, and 75,599 votes for Legalise Cannabis Australia. Party president and New South Wales Senate hopeful Michael Balderstone told The Feed the results, though early, have left him thrilled. "I'm really happy we got the issue out there. I think it helped we changed our name to 'Legalise Cannabis'. It's very clear what we're about," Mr Balderstone said about the party, which rebranded from ‘HEMP’ or 'Help End Marijuana Prohibition' following the 2019 federal election. "People see that little leaf on the end too." He believes the anonymity of a voting booth has helped. "It's hard to even get people on the ground campaigning because, you know, who wants to put their hand up and say, 'Yeah, I'm a criminal. I smoke weed.' "No one can see you writing '1' for 'Legalise Cannabis' and I think a lot of people took advantage of that." 'We're a single issue party' Allowing Australians to grow cannabis and reducing the cost of medicinal marijuana are some of the party's concerns. "Most of us who ran use medical cannabis and that's why it's our passion," Mr Balderstone said. "The Greens have a good cannabis policy, but they didn't focus on it at all. The election was all about climate change. Fair enough." The Greens are also proposing the legalisation of the drug, as well as a regulated market with quality control, a ban on advertising, and the establishment of an agency to issue licenses.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson could be edged out of her Senate seat. Source: AAP

If Legalise Cannabis Australia manages to edge out Senator Hanson, criminal defence solicitor Bernard Bradley will take the Senate spot. He told The Feed he is not a cannabis user himself, but said his line of work had drawn him to the party's message. Mr Bradley would like to see criminal records for personal use be waived and for those caught driving with cannabis in their system to only be charged when it impairs their driving. Measly spend on the campaign Mr Balderstone, who has been in the party since it was founded in 1990s, said he was also pleased that the surging number of votes could earn the party reimbursement from the AEC. After each federal election, the AEC distributes money to eligible political parties, candidates and Senate groups to reimburse them for their election spending, provided they receive at least four per cent of first preference votes in an election. With about a third of the votes counted, the Legalise Cannabis Party has about 6.6 per cent at the moment.

Criminal defence solicitor Bernard Bradley is the Queensland Senate hopeful for the Legalise Cannabis Australia Party. With this money, Mr Balderstone would like to run a bigger campaign next election, gunning for the lower house. After $32,000 was used to register two Senate candidates in every state, the party had just a small sum left to make a few t-shirts, take out a 40-second radio ad, and cover some other registration fees. "At the most, we spent $20,000 - which is pretty good compared to Clive's $100 million," Mr Balderstone said. More votes than any other year With six Queensland Senate vacancies available, the Liberal National Party of Queensland has already secured two seats, the Labor Party looks set to nab two, and a major swing towards the Queensland Greens puts them on track to secure the fifth vacancy. It's the sixth seat at stake here. The Legalise Cannabis Party is, at the moment, enjoying a 4.93 per cent swing in its favour. Meanwhile, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party is suffering a 2.52 swing away. This is trending differently from Queensland's results in 2019 when PHON was well above the Greens, the United Australia Party, Katter's Australia Party (KAP), and the Legalise Cannabis Australia Party, respectively. The uptick in other states and terrorities are as follows: Northern Territory (3.14 per cent), Western Australia (2.13 per cent), Tasmania (2.10 per cent), Victoria (1.84 per cent) the ACT (1.78 per cent), New South Wales (0.82 per cent) and SA (0.37 per cent). On social media, some speculated the party was garnering a protest vote because of disagreement with the policies of other parties. Others described it as a "why not" vote. 'More behind this weekend's numbers' In 2019, for the first time, the number of people in favour of legalising marijuana (41 per cent) overtook those in opposition (37 per cent), according to the National Drug Household Survey. Jarryd Bartle, a sessional lecturer in criminal law at Melbourne's RMIT University and a consultant to government business and community organisations on drug issues, said though support for legal recreational use had risen, this weekend's results should not be oversimplified. “The Legalise Cannabis Australia party received a strong vote over the weekend but it doesn’t mean Australians are ready for legal recreational cannabis," Mr Bartle said. “Asking voters if they support a policy proposal in the abstract can often be a poor read of the level of support it would receive once it becomes a hot button political issue. "There's a bit of a cautionary tale here from the 2020 New Zealand referendum on cannabis. Early opinion polls for that referendum indicated that there was a majority supporting the legalisation of cannabis. "We actually saw that referendum fail." Originally posted here: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-feed/article/a-different-shade-of-green-legalise-cannabis-party-pushing-pauline-hanson-for-senate-spot/n6kf7gmpl

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