Skyrail activists arrested for pot
By Zanny Begg
BRISBANE — A picket was held outside the parliamentary executive buildings on January 17 to protest against the arrest of Manfred Stephens, an anti-Kuranda Skyrail activist who had maintained a vigil for 208 days up a tree.
Stephens was arrested for possession of marijuana. His home, a de facto base for the anti-Skyrail protest, was then raided and 14 people arrested for pot-related offences. Many of the 14 were activists in the anti-Skyrail campaign.
Tony Kneipp, from Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP), told Green Left Weekly, "The arrest of the 14 activists is yet another clear-cut example of the pot laws being used against political activists and opponents of the Goss government who are fighting his development projects".
Kneipp argued that pot smoking is very widespread in the community but that it is only political activists, young people or the unemployed who are charged.
"The Criminal Justice Commission discussion paper made it quite clear that there is a general discrimination in the application of the pot laws. White collar workers make up some 10% of [pot] smokers, yet they make up only 2% of people busted. The unemployed only make up 10% of smokers and they make up about 50% of those busted."
Kneipp continued, "During the Joh years, it was something we all learned to resent. Anyone who represented a threat to the government was harassed by the drug laws.
"The government need to wrap their heads around the fact that people are smoking pot, and using the pot laws to target activists just isn't on. We want prohibition ended."
[HEMP can be contacted on (07) 844 7499.]