Media Releases

Sex Party calls for action not promises on HIV and the law

The Sex Party has called on the Victorian Health Minister to reconsider his announcement and repeal Section 19A of the Crimes Act that makes it an offence to intentionally cause a serious disease (with HIV exclusively defined as a serious disease).

Party president Fiona Patten said that the section of the Act in question was introduced exclusively to address a fear of HIV infection 21 years ago. “To remove the stigma of this discriminatory and ineffective regulation it must be removed in its entirety”, she said. “UN AIDS has stated that criminalisation of HIV does not lead to positive outcomes for the community and adversely affects people living with and without HIV.

"In Victoria we know that using Criminal law as a public health tool doesn't work. In part it is the reason we changed our Prostitution Laws in Victoria. It is the reason that we did not outlaw syringes here but provided needle exchanges instead. It is why Australia is recognised as a world leader in fighting HIV”.

The Sex Party is also concerned that amendments may lead to criminalising more people who have other "serious" diseases such as Hepatitis C, HPV and Clamydia, all of which can lead to terminal illnesses.

Ms Patten said the minister had placed no timetable on changing the law.

The Sex Party has called on the Victorian parliament to introduce legislation to repeal Section 19a of the Crimes Act by the end of the week.

“Wouldn't it be a brilliant finish to the conference if the host, Victoria, actually acted on the conference's recommendations instead of making promises to”?

Cassie Batten Fronts Police and DOCS Over Medical Cannabis

Cassie Batten, the mother of three year old Victorian boy Cooper Batten, has been keeping him alive with the help of very low doses of tincture of medical cannabis/cannabinoids. Today police ordered her to attend the local police station to answer questions about her illegal use of the product and told her that DOCS would be in attendance as well. Ms Batten is concerned that her severely disabled little boy will be taken away from her over the use of medical cannabis/cannabinoids.

Sex Party President, Fiona Patten was contacted by Ms Batten this afternoon in a distressed state. She said that police confiscated two bottles of tincture but had left one for treatment to continue.

Ms Patten has written an urgent email to Victorian Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge asking her to intervene and to guarantee that Cooper will still receive the medical cannabis that keeps him seizure-free and that he and his mother will be allowed to go home together.

“It is an outrageous situation that a loving mother who is keeping her son alive in this way is today being subjected to police prosecution and possibly losing her son to DOCS”, she said. “All state governments need to immediately institute some form of amnesty on prosecution for the many people using medical cannabis and cannabinoids”.

New Federal Drug Laws Kick Start Australian Drug Production

Today’s announcement by the Federal Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan, that all new psychoactive substances (NPS) will be prohibited from import unless importers can prove they have a legitimate use, will see the creation of hundreds of mobile drug labs and secret production houses start up around the country.

Sex Party President and Eros CEO, Fiona Patten, said the Minister’s media release was very thin on detail. “Will the bans be based on pharmacological mimicry (like Qld and SA) or on psychoactivity (like NSW)?. If based on ‘mimicry’, then will they only apply to LSD, MDMA and cannabis as suggested in the new laws (ie sertonergics and cannabinomimetics) or also to other drugs like GHB, amphetamine etc (ie GABAergics, adrenergics, etc)?

She said that the new laws would radically change the supply chain for NPS in Australia. “Bans on imports do nothing to address the desire and the market for drugs at home” she said. “If they can no longer be bought in from overseas, there are plenty of chemistry graduates who have the know-how to produce these new synthetic psychoactive substances within Australia. The federal government may have just inadvertently opened the door to a massive new drug problem”.

Ms Patten said that regulation would be far more effective in controlling NPS and cited the release of new statistics by the New Zealand Star Trust group last week that showed that during 2013, while it was legal to sell approximately 30 NPS in that country, illicit drug offences declined by 22.7%. Paul Glue, head of psychological medicine at Dunedin School of Medicine (NZ) said that “Since the Bill was enacted, we have seen fewer hospital admissions and emergency presentations associated with the use of synthetics”.

During 2013 there were no recorded deaths from NPS in NZ at the same time as 3,764 people died from tobacco use. The New Zealand government collected $42 million in taxes from the sale of regulated NPS and 3.5 million packets were sold. There were 12 positive media stories and 2,843 negative ones on the topic during 2013.

Ms Patten said the proposed regulatory regime invested unworkable powers with the ACBPS to determine if a substance had a ‘legitimate use’ and that it was unfair to allow the agency that seized the NPS in the first place to then consider whether or not that decision had been correct. “Many common herbs like Damiana have a psychoactive effect”, she said. “Will they be banned? And what is a ‘legitimate use’ anyway? Is the importation of a weak NPS as a healthier substitute for tobacco or alcohol, a ‘legitimate use’?

Ms Patten said Australia was about to break into the scenarios and storylines of the highest rated TV show of all time – Breaking Bad. On one level the TV show was a ‘morality play’ about a high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. He turns to a life of crime producing methamphetamine from a mobile laboratory in the form of a caravan, in order to ensure his family is looked after when he is gone. On another level, the program offers policy makers a compelling and fascinating account of how the prohibition of the new illicit drugs makes organized crime rich and casts misery on average families. Ms Patten strongly advised policy makers to watch the first series before escalating any prohibition on illicit drugs.

She said the negative impacts and dangers of NPS had been overstated in the Government’s Regulatory Impact Statement with little or no evidence produced. There had been little research done on the actual health impact of NPS. On this note she said she was concerned that the Alcohol and Drug sector had not been consulted and possibly were not aware of the RIS.

“The size of the market for synthetic cannabinoid-type products alone is estimated at more than $600 million in Australia”, she said. “If other NPS and individual purchases made via the internet are included, then that figure could be as much as a billion dollars. Considering the size of the market for these products it must be assumed that the vast majority of consumers do not suffer any significant negative health effects.”

Ms Patten said that the solution to the emergence of the New Psychoactive Substances was to legalise an old one – cannabis.

Sex Party To Hand Out Free Pills: Support. Don't Punish

Thousands of activists will take to the streets in more than 80 cities tomorrow to expose the harm that drug laws cause via health crises, instability and mass incarceration around the world.

Mass demonstrations and other actions are planned in London, Paris, Warsaw, Mexico City, Kathmandu, Rome, Phnom Penh, Tbilisi, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow and more than 70 other cities. The actions are varied – from public gatherings, street art and dance displays, music concerts, public meetings and workshops, boat shows, social media campaigns, and advertisements on public transportation and billboards.

The Australian Sex Party will hand out 'safe' druggie bags at major railway stations in Melbourne before unveiling a revised drug policy. This includes a call to establish safe medically supervised injecting facilities in Melbourne and implement better harm reduction services in Victoria's prisons. The party is also calling for decriminalisation of the posession and use of all currently illicit drugs.

Tomorrow is the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. This day is used by many governments to celebrate the war on drugs, to justify violent crackdowns and to promote harsh punishments. It has even been used in the past for public executions and beatings of drug offenders in some countries.

The “Support. Don’t Punish: Global Day of Action” seeks to reclaim this day and promote a more effective and humane approach to drugs that is based on public health and human rights.

The campaign was organised by a coalition of NGOs calling on governments to put an end to the expensive and counter-productive war on drugs. According to estimates, the drug war costs in excess of $100 billion annually to enforce and has failed to reduce drug markets or drug use.

The list of high-profile figures calling for the end of this war on drugs is growing fast: President José Mujica of Uruguay, former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, Brad Pitt, Sir Richard Branson, Kofi Annan and Russell Brand to name a few.

“During 2012 to 2013, 7,037 Victorians had a recorded offence for cannabis possession,” notes Australian Sex Party president, Fiona Patten. “There are 4,915 Victorians with a recorded offence for possessing an amphetamine-type stimulant, including the relatively harmless popular party drug, MDMA. The vast majority of these will be non-problematic pot smokers and party goers who shouldn't be punished for using their drug of choice. And for those who do have a problem, the police should be the last people sent in to assist.”

The “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign is a global initiative supported by more than 100 NGOs around the world. It calls for investments in proven effective and cost-effective harm reduction responses for people who use drugs, and for the decriminalization of people who use drugs and the removal of other laws that impede public health services. For more information and resources about the campaign, visit www.supportdontpunish.org and http://supportdontpunish.org/day-of-action-2014/

Look out for volunteers from the Australian Sex Party and supporters on Thursday morning at CBD train stations wearing the 'Support Don't Punish' T-shirts and pick up your extra special gift. Visit the Australian Sex Party's webpage for more information on the party and its policies. http://www.sexparty.org.au

EVENT DETAILS:

7:30am – 9am & 5pm – 6:30pm - Melbourne CBD train stations https://www.facebook.com/events/1493869254180457/

Melbourne Movie Premier

The Australian Sex Party is helping to bring the movie Neurons to Nirvana: Understanding Psychedelic Medicines to Melbourne. Following the movie, Fiona Patten will join other panelists to discuss issues raised in the film.

“The film looks into five currently illegal drugs and their therapeutic potential,” said Ms. Patten. “These are drugs that have been historically condemned despite having a therapeutic potential. It's only been in the past decade that this potential is being explored and we're seeing promising results elsewhere in the world.”

Neurons to Nirvana will screen at the Village Theaterette, State Library of Victoria on Tuesday the 29th and Wednesday the 30th of April. Sales from the event will help raise money for the Australian organisation, Psychedelic Research in Science and Medicine (PRISM). PRISM are looking to research the effects of treating post-traumatic stress disorder with MDMA. Studies overseas have proved very promising.

“Since Australia first became engaged with the war in Afghanistan, there's been a fourfold increase in PTSD cases among returning veterans. MDMA assisted psychotherapy has shown itself to be very useful for many treatment resistant soldiers over in the U.S. Australian soldiers may be able to benefit from this type of treatment too and we have a responsibility to allow this avenue to be explored,” said Ms. Patten.

Other panelists include PRISM's Martin Williams and Steve Bright, Tim Payne from Entheogenesis Australis (EGA) and Steph Tzanetis from Harm Reduction Victoria & DanceWize.

Tickets are $24 or $18 for students, concession and pensioners and can be bought at http://www.entheo.net For media inquiries or interviews, please contact: Fiona Patten  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or Nick Wallis  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Refer Cannabis Industry to Productivity Commission: Sex Party

The Australian Sex Party wants the Productivity Commission to examine the total economic effect of legalising and regulating all forms of Cannabis, as well as the hemp industry.

Sex Party President, Fiona Patten said that apart from raising an estimated $1 - $2 billion a year from legalising and taxing marijuana, the potential bonanza from hemp products in the market place was not well understood in government.

The hemp industry last week announced their fight to have HEMP foods legally recognised. This industry already generates $13 million in trade for Australia. It is estimated that the demand for hemp food products will quadruple this year if they get approval. Hemp farming also uses much less water than cotton and could remove millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.[1]

In the U.S., Colorado is expecting to bring in $578 million from its new legal cannabis industry, including $67 million in tax revenue.[2] Legal cannabis comes into effect later this year in Washington state. There are currently recreational legalisation Bills in 11 states, decriminalisation in five states and medical marijuana in three states.[3]

Ms Patten said that Australia had followed US drug policy for many years but was not keeping up with the current trends. ‘We risk losing a great economic advantage by not following the US and New Zealand in their approaches to drugs’, she said. ‘The various varieties of the cannabis plant have many uses, ranging from industrial to foodstuffs and from recreational to medicinal uses.’

Read more: Refer Cannabis Industry to Productivity Commission: Sex Party

Coalition Backflip on Internet Censorship: Smoke and Mirrors

The Coalition’s embarrassing back flip on its plans to filter the internet should serve as a warning to voters that the issue of censorship was alive and well in both major parties.

Sex Party president and Victorian senate candidate, Fiona Patten, said that neither party could be trusted to hold to their policies on censoring the internet and the Coalition’s new policy meant nothing for what they would really do in government. The Coalition has repeatedly stated that they favour the online censorship policies of UK Prime Minister, David Cameron.

She called on Tony Abbott to agree to implement the recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) enquiry into classification in Australia. The ALRC recommended sweeping changes to classification with reference to the online environment. Both Rudd and Gillard governments refused to implement or even respond to most of the recommendations.

Read more: Coalition Backflip on Internet Censorship: Smoke and Mirrors

Sex Party Challenges Abbott Over Tampon Tax

The Australian Sex Party is challenging Tony Abbott to commit to removing the GST on tampons and sanitary pads if he becomes Prime Minister. While essential items and services, like food, child care and health are exempt from GST, tampons and sanitary pads still attract a 10 per cent charge.

Sex Party President, Fiona Patten, said the tax was discriminatory and unfair in that it disadvantaged half the population to the benefit of the other half. She said that the only reason tampons and pads were included in the GST was because Parliament had determined them to be ‘luxury’ items.

“A Paid Parental Leave is fine but we need a scheme to benefit women who are not pregnant and this is it”, she said. “Australian women are forced to pay (on average) an extra dollar every month for pads or tampons via the GST. Per year, the GST raises over $14 million from female sanitary products. The GST on tampons is a regressive tax that hits poorer people harder whereas Paid Parental Leave is a benefit that is weighted for the more wealthy.”

Read more: Sex Party Challenges Abbott Over Tampon Tax

Sex Party Announces Cannabis Led Recovery for Tasmania

The Australian Sex Party has announced a radical economic plan that would see millions of dollars injected into the ailing Tasmanian economy.

The Sex Party wants to legalise and tax marijuana like alcohol and commence large-scale cultivation of cannabis crops alongside poppy crops in Tasmania and turn the state into the hemp and marijuana capital of Australia.

Sex Party President, Fiona Patten, will launch the Sex Party’s policy on channel Nine national television this morning.

She said two states in the USA had now regulated and taxed recreational marijuana with Colorado being the latest. A further ten states are drawing up plans to do the same. Twenty one states in the US have legalised medical marijuana. New Zealand has recently regulated and taxed the sale of synthetic cannabis.

Read more: Sex Party Announces Cannabis Led Recovery for Tasmania

Sex Party TV Election Ads Banned

Commercials Advice (CAD), a division of Free TV and Australia’s self-regulatory body for Australian television advertising, has banned a series of Australian Sex Party TV ads advocating a policy of ‘voluntary euthanasia’. The ads had been approved for broadcast by CAD over four weeks ago on 1st August and were due to start screening today. At 4pm last Friday, when all production studio facilities had closed for the weekend and there was no possibility of changing or amending the ads, the Sex Party was told by CAD that its ads were in breach of their guidelines and unless amended, would be taken off air.

Read more: Sex Party TV Election Ads Banned

War On The Salvos!

MoralCompas

The Salvation Army have quietly been chipping away at social reforms over the years and although they appear to do good charitable work in the community, today’s media release by Aletha Blayse puts another view forward on this. As John Howard’s advisor on illicit drug regulation the Salvos’ Major Brian Watters put the case for drug law reform back a hundred years. Tell the Salvos to stop interfering in Australia’s moral compass and get on with feeding the poor. Join the demonstration in Sydney.

White Shield Appeal Campaign
Protest Against Salvation Army

Sydney, 17th-31st July, 140 Elizabeth Street, Sydney (Salvation Army Headquarters)

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Letter to Will Hodgman MP

TassieMull

Dear Premier,

There is a strong push for drug law reform around cannabis use in Australia and Tasmania in particular. You have probably seen several of the high profile stories that have aired recently outlining the need for reform around the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

The currently available cannabis medications are largely ineffective, expensive, difficult to obtain and not available for many conditions. Research into the medical use of cannabis is stifled by prohibitive legislation, despite many promising studies overseas and some apparently miraculous anecdotes, such as those relating to children who suffer from epileptic fits.

Read more