Legalise Cannabis Victoria (LCV) has won a reprieve from Facebook after the social media giant pulled its ads from the platform for allegedly breaching its advertising rules.
Trouble started when LCV tried to run ads on the network to boost its membership recruitment drive in Victoria ahead of the state’s upcoming election.
Victoria is the only mainland state without a Legalise Cannabis Party and the deadline for registration to run candidates in November’s poll is only one week away.
However, Facebook’s cannabis advertising rules meant the party initially struggled to get its messaging approved.
It has now made changes to the campaign – “You Deserve the Right to Vote To Legalise Cannabis in Victoria” – and the ads are running in regional areas.
LCV secretary Craig Ellis said: “It seems we have landed on a mutual position. They are okay with us promoting the party and positioning it as a part of the democratic process.
“When we butt heads is if they judge the creative as in any way promoting cannabis use.”
“It’s very subjective, and it’s been a pain going back and forth with Facebook on images and copy for months now.”
“Unfortunately, with only one week to go to get enough members to register, it may be a case of too little, too late.”
In addition to its woes with Facebook, LCV is also facing a challenge from another party seeking registration that has called itself Legalise Marijuana.
Ellis said: “We have no idea who this mob are. I suspect they are a trojan horse designed to siphon votes away from us and direct preferences to conservative parties.”
The Victorian electoral system uses the group voting ticket, where parties – not the voters – decide where preferences are directed.
Ellis claimed that at the last Victorian election in 2018, complex preference deals resulted in a number of micro conservative parties winning seats despite only getting a fraction of a percentage in terms of primary votes.
While he described Victoria as “the most progressive state” and the one most likely to move forward with cannabis law reform should Labor Premier Daniel Andrews win another term, he warned it could be stymied by a conservative Legislative Council.
“There was a serious attempt to find a solution to the roadside drug testing impasse last year,” he said.
“We are hopeful that this work won’t simply be shelved – so the balance of power in Victoria is vitally important. If the Legislative Council falls to conservatives it will put cannabis law reform back by at least four years.
“Getting the required number of members to get the party registered in Victoria has been a battle. Even though it is against the law for the Electoral Commission to divulge the fact that someone is a member of the party, getting people to sign up to a party called Legalise Cannabis is a hurdle. It’s going to go down to the wire.”
To join LCV and the campaign to run candidates in Victoria in November, click here.