Legalise Cannabis Victoria will consider taking legal action should a new political party with an almost identical name be successfully registered for November’s state election.

Campaign advisor Craig Ellis told Cannabiz he would “look at legal options” in the event of the Legalise Marijuana Party being approved by the Victoria Electoral Commission (VEC).

Craig Ellis: legal action a possibility

The comment came after Ellis lodged a formal objection to the registration of the new party, arguing it was an “egregious attempt” to siphon votes away from the Legalise Cannabis Party.

In a letter to electoral commissioner Warwick Gately, Ellis said the name “so nearly resembles” its own that it is “likely to be confused with or mistaken for that name”.

“If you look at this in the context of a trademark case, it would be absolutely outrageous,” Ellis told Cannabiz. “It’s a major distraction. We should be focusing on legalising cannabis, but we’re getting these left-field challenges.”

Ellis argued in the letter of objection that the words ‘cannabis’ and ‘marijuana’ are used interchangeably and “overwhelmingly resemble each other”.

“There is no material differentiating elements in the name Legalise Marijuana Party to Legalise Cannabis Victoria,” he wrote. “We regard the attempt to register the Legalise Marijuana Party as an egregious case of passing off designed to confuse voters to siphon votes away from Legalise Cannabis.”

Ellis added that Legalise Cannabis is an established party across Australia, both at state and federal level, and has elected MPs in Western Australia’s Legislative Council.

The mystery party

The origins or policies of Legalise Marijuana remain a mystery. Ellis said party members have been unable to contact the ‘rival’, with the registered residential address understood to be empty and listed for sale.

There is also no website.

Cannabiz, along with several other media organisations, has also been unable to locate a representative of the party.

In its application to the VEC, the secretary of Legalise Marijuana was named as Gurmeet Kaur. A person of the same name – who works for Museums Victoria – tweeted that they had nothing to do with any political movement.

Legalise Marijuana’s logo, as provided to the VEC

Despite the paucity of information – prompting Ellis to describe Legalise Marijuana as a trojan horse – an application to register a party with the VEC must be accompanied by a list of at least 500 members.

VEC then writes to members, of which 500 must reply and confirm their membership in order for the registration to be ratified.

Among the requirements for registration is that the party “must not be the name or confusingly similar to the name of another registered political party”.

Meanwhile, Ellis said Legalise Cannabis Victoria has close to 1,500 members and was getting close to the 500 needed to actively confirm their membership with VEC.

“I’m confident we’ll get the 500 we need in order to be registered,” he said.

Steve has reported for a number of consumer and B2B titles over a journalism career spanning more than three decades. He is a regulator contributor to health journal, The Medical Republic, writing on...

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