HEMP picket of newspaper
BRISBANE — On September 19, HEMP (Help End Marijuana Prohibition) held a picket outside the offices of the Courier-Mail.
In early August, the Murdoch press was campaigning nationally against the proposed heroin trial in Canberra. While the Daily Telegraph led the mad-dog pack in Sydney, the efforts of columnist Lawrie Kavanagh and the Courier-Mail were far more rabid.
On August 11, Kavanagh gave his "final solution" to the drug problem. "Let's investigate a program of compulsory cold turkey for all known addicts ... However, cold turkey centres would have to be more secure than our jails, where heroin appears to be freely available.
"If ever there was an argument for the death penalty in these enlightened times, it is in the drug trade. Set a minimum amount of hard drugs as a standard and those caught with anything above that quantity face death.
"We are told most pushers are simply poor addicts trading small amounts to finance their own habit. So make it tough on them too, first into the detoxification centre and then into the bin for long sentences."
HEMP wrote to the Courier-Mail calling on it to publicly censure Kavanagh and apologise for promoting such totalitarian ideas. The Courier Mail refused to publish the letter. Instead, they allowed Kavanagh to reply with more of the same a month later.
Picketers outside the Courier-Mail carried a "Legalise HEMP" banner and placards that said, "Say No To Drug Nazis", "What Colour Star Should We Wear Lawrie" and "Honk For HEMP", which many of those passing did.
The Courier-Mail sent security guards to stop their employees receiving the protesters' leaflets and called the police to try to stop the demonstrators using a megaphone.
"They were pathetic", said HEMP protester John Jiggens. "They have presses that churn out a million newspapers a day, and they were frightened by a few people with a couple of hundred photocopied leaflets. They wouldn't send out a journalist to interview us; and they again refused to publish our letter criticising Kavanagh!"
HEMP's Tony Kneipp said, "Extreme penalties, including mandatory life sentences for small amounts of heroin, have already been tried in Queensland and have failed dismally. The people of Queensland are sick and tired of jackboot police methods in the name of the war on drugs."