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Police Brawl with Medical Marijuana Patients at Australian Cannabis Rally?


police battle mmj patients

The 20th of April 2022 marked a disaster ending for the yearly Community Picnic and 420 Rally which was held in Victoria, Australia at Flagstaff Gardens, Melbourne. The event came to a bad ending when enforcement agents sabotaged the activities, hauling off cannabis patients and disobeying the medical cannabis legislation.


In 2016, the Australian parliament revised the Narcotics Drug Act which saw the medical use of cannabis legalized in the country. Before the latest event on April 20th, healthcare professionals, nurses, and doctors are known to prescribe medical cannabis to patients in Victoria’s courtesy of the Narcotics Drug Act. However, specific products still need additional authorization from the commonwealth TGA.


But with the latest happenings at the rally events, a mixed feeling of a call to action and celebration now fills the air. Jason, alias “Ancient Jay”, the man in charge of organizing the Community Picnic and 420 Rally every year had a lot to say about the situation. He affirmed that the event didn’t stop law enforcement agents from arresting individuals smoking cannabis at the community picnic.


Ancient Jay, during the interview with High Times, spoke about the unprofessional conduct of the police. He claimed that the police executed pre-meditated assaults on the most susceptible members during the rally. He reiterated that the police illegally searched and intimidated individuals in the park as well as a patient just recovering from brain surgery.


He also explained how an elderly man was illegally searched in open sight despite him not possessing any illicit drugs or cannabis. Jay furthered that the humiliation the man suffered was apparent as he tried to hide the tears rolling down his face. Ancient Jay himself is an advocate of drug reform and has been using cannabis for the last three decades mainly for medicinal use.


Apart from Ancient Jay, the British tabloid Daily Mail also witnessed a typical incident that involved several officers dragging a man while ignoring his pleas. The man pleaded that he had a prescription that he legally obtained from the pharmacy. He was dragged away and handcuffed without being given a listening ear. After he was released, the man mentioned to the reporter that he was looking to have a wonderful time at the rally given he was a first-timer. But things didn’t turn out as expected.


A spokesperson for the Victorian Police affirmed that police were on the ground at the Flagstaff Gardens to prevent a protest. He affirmed that the man was later released but that was after he was dragged, handcuffed, arrested, and hauled off. This is not the type of treatment many envisioned and advocated for when they pushed for the legalization of cannabis marijuana.


For video evidence, a blogger who was at the rally recorded several incidents and uploaded them on Youtube. The video showed the unprofessional conduct and aggression of the police while the DJ plays some background music. While police aggression was on full display, attendants of the rally called the officers “cowards” and “uniformed thugs” along with other names.


According to Ancient Jay, a major problem since the legalization of medical use of cannabis is accessibility. He believes that the provision put in place allows for situations where patients’ rights can be outright ignored. He went on to say that the latest action of the police at the rally shows that many don’t fully recognize medical cannabis.


Ancient Jay affirmed that the police’s aggressive approach towards the rally is a pointer to a lack of empathy and understanding towards vulnerable community members.


TROG, a psychedelic artist located in Victoria, and with several connections with cannabis communities was also affected by the situation. In his interview with High Times, he explained that incidents like that are not supposed to be happening in this era. He believes enough information is not available which shows cannabis isn’t harmful.



Australians’ Support for Legalized Cannabis

According to a survey and report published in 2019, about half of Australians believe the Australian government should legalize marijuana. The survey revealed that exactly 41.1% of Australians want cannabis legalized — a significant increase in acceptance rate compared to when the question was first asked in 2013.


Researchers in Australia have always looked into changes in public perception towards the use of drugs over time. The survey, which is carried out by the National Drug Strategy Household Survey every two or three years since the 80s was last conducted in 2019.


Taking a look at the survey, data revealed that approval ratings of cannabis jumped from 25.5% in 2013 to 41.1% in 2019 – an almost doubled significant increase in acceptance. The number of individuals who indicated that they’ve tried out cannabis at some point has also slightly increased in the last two decades. The figure increased from 33.5% (2001) to 38% (2019).


According to a professor at the University of NSW’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Don Weatherburn, cannabis is now becoming popular, courtesy of the law being less draconian. He affirmed that a lot of states have not established schemes for positive orientation about cannabis. As a result, the stigmatization of the herb has reduced significantly since the 80s.


Another factor Weatherburn highlighted is the fact those who first tried cannabis are now in positions of power across major institutions and government agencies. Citing the US as an example, the country previously had stringent laws against marijuana but so much has changed. Now, several dispensaries have been established across the country selling cannabis legally.


Support for cannabis use continues to grow and researchers can find solid arguments for such growth. Meanwhile, the analysis also indicated that support for other illegal drugs is at an all-time low.


Weatherburn analyzed that while support for legalizing cocaine and ecstasy is considerably low, the stats have slightly increased since 2013. The 2019 survey recorded that 9.5% of Australians were in support of legalizing cocaine and ecstasy compared to 81% in 2013.


The survey also revealed a significant increase in the support for education and treatment rather than punitive penalties and prison. While people are not in support of these drugs, they would love for a different approach to be undertaken other than the conventional fines and imprisonment.


Another survey carried out by Essential Research, an online polling company, between the 30th of March and the 2nd of April, 2022 proves positive. About 50% of the respondents believe a full cannabis reform should take place in the country.




Even though cannabis has been made legal for medical use in Australia, the events of the Rally are a pointer that more public education needs to be done in the country. It’s one thing to legalize cannabis, and it’s another to fight stigmatization.


As long as cannabis users are still stigmatized, events like this will continue to happen and hopefully, it doesn’t get worse than it is already. The public, most especially enforcement agents need to learn the truth about cannabis otherwise, harassment like this will continue to happen.






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