British artist David Hockney has written to The Spectator in support of Schapelle Corby and marijuana use

Eric Ellis is way way off in his piece (‘The Whingers of Oz‘, 11 June).
Why are the Australians angry? I would think it’s because the 20-year
sentence passed on Schapelle Corby for smuggling marijuana is savage.
No doubt Eric Ellis has never smoked any marijuana, but it is a
harmless and pleasant plant that, like a couple of cocktails, makes you
feel relaxed and, unlike them, quiet. Why is the stuff still illegal? I
assume it’s the power of the alcohol lobby (commerce being behind most

Alcohol has damaged and killed friends of mine, but I’ve never known
anyone harmed by the weed, whose relaxing pleasure I have enjoyed for
40 years, and tobacco (now another demonised natural thing) for 50
years. The demonisation of tobacco, by the way, is supported by the
press (especially TheGuardian) without debating the consequences. That
everyone will be better off without tobacco cannot be proved. What
takes its place? Antidepressants and other pharmaceuticals that have
all sorts of side-effects and unknown long-term consequences. Of course
the pharmaceutical companies are supporting the anti-smoking campaign.

The BMA is irresponsible for not seeing the consequences of its call
for an outright smoking ban, which is to criminalise another industry.
The increase in tobacco-smuggling has profound effects on attitudes to
law and society.

The alcohol lobby, meanwhile, must have noticed lots of people at
weekends just drink water, even in clubs; they don’t need alcohol
because they have got something better. Alcohol causes more crime and deaths than any drug. Not that it should
be banned. Like drugs, it’s pleasant, and when it was made illegal in
America they just made their own.

The Australians should stand up for their freedoms and continue to
support Schapelle Corby. They daren’t say marijuana is harmless, so I
will, speaking from experience.

CRIKEY: Hockney is probably
the most prominent Brit to enter an Australian debate since the
naturalist David Bellamy was arrested at the Franklin River in 1983. He
has also opened a marijuana debate among the UK’s chattering classes in
doing so.

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey