A politician leading the charge to legalise cannabis as a tribute to his son who took his own life is on the verge of claiming a seat in the Parliament.
Legalise Cannabis Party candidate and former Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham re-entered politics after four years in memory of his son Eden.
Eden, 23, was found dead in bushland last August after telling his parents he ‘suffered the most evil abuse’ at the hands of a relative as a young boy.
He struggled with and drug addiction as a result and his dad wants cannabis legalised as an alternative treatment to opiates.
Legalise Cannabis Party candidate Jeremy Buckingham is on the verge of claiming a seat in the NSW Parliament
Mr Buckingham led his party’s Legislative Council ticket at the NSW election on Saturday and has 0.84 quotas so far, very close to the threshold required for a seat.
Legalise Cannabis has 3.8 per cent of the upper house vote, more than any other minor party besides the Greens (9.5 per cent) and One Nation (5.7 per cent).
Counting will continue for many days to come, with only 60 per cent tallied so far, and Mr Buckingham wasn’t yet ready to claim victory.
‘We’re cautiously optimistic we can secure a spot,’ he said, noting the party got about 10 per cent of the vote on the mid-north coast.
Election analyst Ben Raue said the party could form part of a progressive majority in the upper house by pulling in votes from Liberal-leaning citizens.
‘Legalise Cannabis, Liberal Democrats, and the Shooters are clearly in front, with Animal Justice in a close contest with the coalition for the final seat,’ he said.
Mr Buckingham during the campaign said Premier Dominic Perrottet and Labor leader Chris Minns were too conservative for modern Australia after they ruled out decriminalising marijuana for recreational use during the debate.
‘The major parties have got their heads in the sand,’ he told Daily Mail Australia after watching the debate.
‘The legalisation of cannabis is inevitable and the rise of the Legalise Cannabis Party is indicative of a growing awareness in Australia that it is the sensible rational thing to do.
‘We can reduce harm, save money, and free up a drug that millions of Australians use both recreationally and for medicine.’
Mr Buckingham pointed to Hawaii voting to legalise marijuana on Tuesday, and numerous other US states and countries that made the switch years ago.
He also noted recent polling showed a majority of Australians for the first time wanted recreational cannabis legalised, and surveys showed most had tried it.
‘The major parties are making a massive mistake by continuing with prohibition, which is expensive, pushes it into the hands of criminals and the black market.That’s a mistake and everyone in Australia knows it,’ he said.
‘Millions of Australians have tried cannabis and thousands in NSW use it – they should not be criminalised and we should not be wasting millions of taxpayers’ dollars on a pointless war that hasn’t worked.’
Mr Buckingham’s son Eden, 23, Banana Runtz (pictured) took his own life last August a day after revealing he had been abused by a relative, and his dad wants to legalise marijuana as a tribute to him
Mr Buckingham said he wasn’t surprised both leaders ruled out legalisation because they were both ‘very conservative and have their heads in the sand’.
He said this position was to both their detriment as it was out of touch with what NSW voters, particularly younger ones, wanted.
‘Young people, especially, recognise that cannabis use and be safe if it’s well regulated,’ he said.
‘Ultimately the major parties are going to have to change their position.’
Mr Buckingham said if he and others in his party were elected at the March 25 election, they would push for both the legalisation of cannabis and the reform of roadside drug testing laws that ‘unfairly impact on people who are using legally prescribed medicinal cannabis’.