A plan to put a statue of Queen Victoria behind bars in Melbourne as part of pro-legalisation 4/20 activities was scuppered at the 11th hour after the stunt was deemed to be “unparliamentary”.

Activists Will Stolk and Alec Zammitt, who operate under the Who are we hurting? banner, had joined forces with Legalise Cannabis Victoria MPs David Ettershank and Rachel Payne to erect a ‘jail’ around the Queen in the state’s parliament building.

The group had wanted to incarcerate the monarch – who was said to be a regular cannabis user – to highlight the draconian laws that continue to heap misery on thousands of people.

But the plan was hastily altered after parliamentary officers banned the activity.

Instead, the pro-legalisation campaigners took their protest to the steps of Parliament House where a jail was erected around fake cannabis plants.

Legalise Cannabis MP David Ettershank said the refusal to allow the statue to be used was “as much my fault as anyone else’s”, with the plan understood to have not been fully communicated to the Parliamentary Office.

“They freaked out at the prospect of having a cage set up around a valuable marble statue,” Ettershank explained. “We’re certainly not having a go at the Parliamentary Office as they are usually very good. It was as much my fault that it didn’t happen.”

Campaigners highlighted that, had Queen Victoria lived in Melbourne today, she would be “arrested and treated like a second-class citizen”.

“After 12 births, Victoria was understandably a regular consumer for pain relief, as are many Victorians,” Ettershank said. “But here in the garden state she would be forbidden from driving and hauled before the courts for growing her own plants.

“That is no way to treat anyone.”

In addition to raising awareness around the social injustice of continued prohibition, the self-described jail was designed to challenge outdated taboos, Stolk and Zammitt said.

“It’s a statement,” Stolk added. “It’s a call for a more informed and compassionate approach to drug policy.”

Legalise Cannabis MP Rachel Payne said the stunt also highlighted the inconsistency of Australia’s cannabis laws, which disproportionately impact First Nations, culturally diverse and working-class people.

She added that more focus should be placed on dealing with alcohol-related crimes, including violent crime, than arresting people for possession of cannabis.

“More than one in 10 Australians regularly use cannabis, which is significantly less harmful than alcohol. Too many crimes are committed under the influence of alcohol,” she said.

“What a waste of police resources, arresting people for possession when our officers should be doing real police work and keeping Victorian women and men safe from violent crime.”

Payne added that politicians are not acting on the will of the people who now want cannabis decriminalised.

The activity was the latest in a series of stunts carried out by Stolk and Zammitt to mark 4/20.

They have previously beamed pro-legalisation messages and images of cannabis plants on to Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge – for which they were charged but later acquitted – and driven tanks through the centre of Sydney.

They also gifted Legalise Cannabis NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham with a four-foot high cannabis plant, wheeling it through Parliament House past startled security guards.

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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