There is a whole sub section of society that isn’t being addressed by the current political system, according to one of WA’s newest members of parliament.
Dr Brian Walker is a GP who works out of his Serpentine practice and was recently voted in as the Member for the East Metropolitan Region, representing the Legalise Cannabis WA Party.
He was one of two politicians from that party to win seats in the Upper House after the last state election and he wants to see change.
His rise to political power began late last year when he found out about the Legalise Cannabis WA party and decided to contact them.
“I am an authorised prescriber and it is very much an uphill battle, so I thought I would give them a call if they could help me with support, or if I could support them,” he said.
“That was in January this year.
“The party started in November last year, they began collecting signatures and it was only the end of January they got the approval and they could plan for the election.
“The whole thing was done on a shoe string budget, about $15,000 and lots of volunteers and the impossible happened.”
According to Dr Walker, a big part of his mission has been to educate other medical professionals about the benefits of cannabis, something he said is a difficult task.
“I have patients coming from far afield because they have spoken to their doctors and have been shot down…. ‘No…we don’t do that, that is for stoners and drug addicts, no I don’t do that.’. So, they are absolutely refusing to consider cannabis,” he said.
“Pain specialists put an article out a few months ago saying that there is no evidence that cannabis will affect pain.
“Well I beg to differ,” he said.
Dr Walker believes the problem with cannabis has been a historical one.
“It is perceived, I think, as being out of the norm and it is very difficult to get doctors to look outside the norm and this is what we’ve been taught because nothing else is right and we’re not going to do it.
“It is very difficult to get this past doctors who are concerned about how they are going to be perceived, so getting doctors to look at this is very difficult, although the research is very, very clear,” he said.
Dr Walker said there were many things that drove him to pursue a career in politics, but one of the biggest was the way in which we, as a society, think about treatment for things such as drug addiction, mental health issues, homelessness, poverty, domestic violence and bullying.
“I had a patient, who had a rope hanging in his garage and went to kill himself, determined,” he said.
“Yet, could I get him into adequate psychiatric care, no.
“When he was finally seen by a psychiatrist, he was whacked with medication to settle him down, like medical handcuffs.
“No one dealt with the underlying trauma.
“No one dealt with the cause.
“So, there was a chap who was going to be zombified with medication, rather than having his problem dealt with and this is a symptom of the whole medical society.
“We are good at putting plaster on the symptoms, but we are not good at dealing with the cause,” he said.
Other issues such as people self-medicating with drugs and alcohol and the alarming rate of deaths from prescribed medication are something he feels no one cares about, but should.
“We need to look at what we are doing in our wellness system, or our sickness industry, as I call it,” he said.
“The drugs that people are using, or abusing, we need to look at in a different light of people trying to manage themselves when our health industry has failed, or our society has failed.
“Then on top of the problems they have got, they are being criminalised and penalised, so we need to change the way we think.”