In 1992, I traveled to the Auschwitz concentration camp and that had a profound effect on me. I realized that when the good guys remain silent, evil is more likely to triumph.
And so I resolved to speak out on important issues – one of which was the imprisonment of several clients for growing cannabis.
I’m not saying that the War on Drugs and the Holocaust are in the same union, only that the grave injustice in my face that is decimating our society was the cannabis eradication choppers.
This is how my engagement with MardiGrass began.
I spoke at my first rally in 1993 and there is a grainy record of my brutal call to arms.
I had hair. I swear so much. Twenty-nine years later and people are still dying in the never-ending political war on drugs. sigh.
Next weekend, I’d brave up with the drug-driving discovery blockade and come back to Nimbien to talk again, like last year and every year in the ’90s.
I won a pong-throwing competition in 1995, and judging combined dribbling for years, was a highlight.
One year the winner was a helicopter, the whole thing was knuckles and the rotors were spinning when the smoker sucked the tail.
There was a scandal when we found out that the drum was only 16 years old (oops).
Some say MardiGrass only preaches to converts – perhaps – I’d rather see it as a rallying cry. But what can I say it’s different, and not just another Groundhog Day sermon?
In the middle of the night I had an eureka moment – I thought about making my talk a bit more dramatic this year.
The first option I tried was to stand up, get close to the microphone, and say “Portugal.” Then sit down.
22 years after the decriminalization of all drugs there, this has led to less youthful overdosing, less overdoses, and less drug-related crime.
There is no idea of going back. We do not need more studies, research, discussions and royal committees. There is a live, breathing, gold-plated experiment called Portugal, which proves the premise of legal reform to reduce harm without a doubt.
Of course, the downside to the one-word concept of speech is that people leave. It’s a shame my ego is struggling with that.
I mean, I have an hour to be the center of attention and just say one word?
The second option I thought of was to pull my bedridden and nearly dead companion on the left platform – oxygen, medical staff and all.
On the stage to the right there is a person smoking weed.
Then the doctors could kill my companion with euthanasia drugs, and after he took off his deadly coils in front of everyone, I point out that one of these two activities on stage is legal.
And one is not. Murder is legal but not drinking.
What a beautiful drama?
Then the third option came to me, which included the same common smoker on the left platform, but with a lectern and saw on the right platform.
If I start the saw with both hands and then put my left arm on the platform, I think I can run the saw with my right hand and cut my left arm completely off.
Then, in my expectation that I would gain the attention of the masses, I would like to point out that my actions were perfectly legal, albeit potentially fatal, but that smoker quarreled there was committing a crime and could go to prison for two years.
We can then move on to the questions and answers while sewing.
Of course, cannabis is a cure for all diseases, and I will recover very quickly.
Drug laws are not, and never have been, about community safety or harm reduction.
They remain stupid and illogical.
They divert resources away from real crimes such as child sexual abuse and domestic violence.
Maybe I can replace Portugal with Thailand or the Australian Capital Territory, where common sense reigns?
Anyway, I chose the third option. I’ve added some props like a bucket and earmuffs to comply with MardiGrass Occupational Health and Safety rules.
Come to MardiGrass and see if you have the stomach for it. Right behind me is the Cannabis Olympiad, where drugs are tested and you can only compete if you test positive for at least one banned substance.
The added bonus with the third option is that it probably makes way for the best dad joke ever.
Keep in mind that a great dad joke has several basic elements.
First, there’s the word game, hopefully a double or triple hit.
Second, it should be annoyingly obvious.
Third, it needs to be repeated – often and especially in enclosed spaces to avoid avoidance.
Finally, it must be said, not written, to make sense.
Why did the lawyer cut his limbs at MardiGrass?
David Helpern is a former judge and dean of law at Southern Cross University.