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Drug Policy Activism in Australia

Following are some strategy thoughts from down under - the Australian Hemp campaign ([email protected]) recently concluded:

Report on the HEMP campaign in South Australia, and my thoughts on its relevance to everyone else.

We got ~16000 votes. Our strategy was to saturate the CBD with coverage (banners whicgh we paraded through the streets, posters, handing out stickers and leaflets, and so on. If anyone wanted to help out we gave them the address of the campaign office, wh ere they could pick up and activist kit, which contained masters of 8 or 9 different posters and a set of breifing notes with things like talkback radio numbers, advice on where to stick posters and so on. We gave out about thirty of these.

One major bonus was the Madonna concert. We stood outside with banners, leaflets and stickers, and solicited donations for the campaign. The response there was really good. I had one young girl come up and hug me because she was so happy to see people try ing to get dope legalised.

This sort of response is, I think, the key. So many people are going to want to play a part in the political process _if_ they believe that it is for something _they_ want. Although I largely agree with most of the campaigning on crime tactics, they are o nly going to change the votes of people who are already registered to vote. By themselves they won't get people to register, and as I understand it this is a major handicap to radical politics in the States. (In Australia, registration and voting is compu lsory for Federal and State elections, which actually helps radical groups _if_ they are running on a populist issue)

People need to feel an emotional tug, I belive, to get them to make the effort to register and vote if they are currently apathetic. So, you need really rabble-rousing campaigns, with wide visions, not just the right policies. For instance, the front of o ur how-to-vote card had our logo on the bottom, below the words:



This is probably far more effective than a speil about human rights.

We have to make people feelthat "Yes!!! I _must_ vote for x" People want something to belive. We have belief in oneself to offer, but we still need good hooks

As far as marijuana goes, I think it is a good idea to run more on the industry side of things and not talk about smoking too much. This is because, as we all know, the potentials for business are enormous if hemp becomes legal again, and we are, sadly (I MHO) playing in a capitalist world.

This, of course, tends to piss of the so-called radical left, who whinge about things like "buying into their game", and the other sort of things that unrepentant marxists tend to moan about. We also can run on the ideas of setting up genuinely co-operati ve communities, businesses etc, based around a hemp economy. We do need some of the left to come with us, otherwise the rulers can continue to drive a wedge into the illusory left/right divide. I think that a campaign around hemp issues has the ability to transcend left and right, if played properly.

If anyone wants a copy of our campaign literature, please send me 2 Australian dollars or the equivalent to cover copying and postage (I'm doing this privately), along with an A4 size self-addressed envelope, to

8 North East Road
Walkerville 5081

cheers, Dave Roussy Hail ERIS!

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