Greg Kasarik

"Act with Empathy"
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When I originally put this website together, I knew that I was embarking on a long and potentially costly exercise to have my religious freedoms recognised. While their use is incidental to my larger message, I knew that I would have to stand up to the Government and actively lobby for the legalisation of Transcendent Compounds. At first, I was reluctant to go down this path, knowing that to do so would be to risk having Transcendent Compounds, rather than the Principles perceived as my main message.

However, In February of 2011, I responded to the Australian Federal Government's proposal to ban plants containing a variety of Transcendent Compounds by making a submission to the Attorney-General's department in which I discussed my own use of these compounds for religious purposes and their importance to the spiritual lives of thousands of Australians.
In March and April, this letter became the basis of another that was sent to all Victorian and Federal Members of Parliament, along with a number of Victorian media figures and people working within the Alcohol and Other Drug sector. While this letter received a number of positive responses from various MPs, including some on the conservative side of politics, it was mostly ignored. Most disappointingly, none of the people working in the AOD sector bothered to reply.
The original government submission can be found here.

On 9 March 2011, the ABC's Radio National "Australia Talks" program aired a show that discussed the proposal to ban these plants. While I was unable to obtain a spot on the panel, I was fortunate enough to be the first caller though and even more fortunate to be allowed to speak for nearly two minutes. 
Interestingly, none of the panalists agreed with the Government's proposed legislation. The conversation can be found on the Australia Talks website and my contribution can be heard at 16:45.
Thankfully nothing has been heard of this legislation since submissions closed and it is to be hoped that nothing will be forthcoming.

In September of 2011, after it was clear that my earlier letter was not going to generate any further response from either Government, I decided to once again write to the Victorian Government. My letter was only sent to the Ministers of the Victorian Government on the hope that limited distribution would give them an opportunity to re-examine the issues within the cabinet room. 
This letter specifically requested regulated access for a limited number of Transcendent Compounds for religious purposes and was written in light of section 14 the VictorianCharter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006, which specifically grants all Victorians freedom of religious practice. Section 7 of that Act requires that the Government does not unduly encroach on the rights of individuals to freely practice their religion. Given that these compounds are used within other jurisdictions, a request for regulated access would seem to be a viable solution that would meet both the needs of the Government and religious communities that utiilise Transcendent Compounds as part of their religious practices. 
The letter also discussed the benefits of allowing such access from health, cutural and policy perspectives.

It can be found here:

Perhaps unsurprisingly the Government rejected my arguments. I received a letter from Dr Karleen Edwards, an Executive Director of the Victorian Department of Health (or more specifically for someone signing under her authority) which asserted (without providing any evidence) that Transcendent Compounds were illegal due to "public health and safety issues". The letter also asserted that the Government had the right to ban the compounds and cited a largely irrelevant case that was heard in the Federal (not state) Court and which occurred prior to the Charter being adopted in Victoria.
Needless to say, given that Transcendent Compounds are non-toxic, non-addictive and psychologically safe in an appropriate dose, set and setting, the "public health and safety" argument is a failure. It seems that Dr Edwards was more interested in simply quashing my request at the behest of the Government than she was in actually researching, or investigating my claims.
Her rather disappointing response can be found here:

I wrote a response to Dr Edwards, in which I refuted both her legal and health claims and provided some evidence to back up my position regarding Transcendent Compounds. I also included an article that discusses why Transcendent Compounds are important to members of Community of Infinite Colour.
My response, which was sent in early November to Dr Edwards, the Premier and a small number of relevant Ministers, can be found here:

This letter was sent in an email dated 8 Nov 2011 and on 30 Dec, I eventually received a response from the good Dr Edwards, in which indicated that 

"I have considered the issues you have raised and advise that the position of the department remains unchanged. The department is also not in a position to undertake research into these compounds but would be interested to see any new peer-reviewed research."

I perhaps quite foolishly took this to indicate that the Victorian Department of Health was prepared to look at any new peer reviewed literature that might support my case. In retrospect, it is quite clear that Dr Edwards believed that there was in fact  no peer reviewed literature to support my case (new, or otherwise) and that  this was simply an effort to put my in my place and get me to stop annoying her and her Government masters.  

In any case, I responded positively, letting her know that I would soon forward her relevant research. I wasn't to know that I wouldn't hear from her for another seven months, by which time she would have moved into an entirely new role. 

John Lennon said that "life is what happens when you are busy making other plans" and in early February, 2012, life happened to me in the form of a cancer diagnosis. Needless to say, this put a bit of a dampener on things and as such I didn't get back to Dr Edwards until the middle of April 2012. Prior to this, it had been my intent to write my own review of the literature, focusing on those issues that I felt were relevant to the case of obtaining regulated access for Transcendent Compounds for religious and spiritual purposes. 

By mid April, it became clear that I was not going to be able to complete such a task in the limited time available, so rather than reinvent the wheel, I sent Dr Edwards copies of Dr Nichols' excellent 2004 paper "Hallucinogens" as well as the "In Print" copy of the "Statement on Ayahuasca" that had recently been sent by a colleague. These papers are state of the art and more than adequately demonstrate my fundamental claim that "Transcendent Compounds are non-addictive, non-toxic and psychologically safe in an appropriate dose, set and setting". 

One might have thought that the polite thing to do would be to at least respond to my revelation of having a cancer diagnosis with a few kind words. Sadly it turned out that Dr Karleen Edwards isn't really into that sort of thing. Or responses. 

Nearly a month later, I once again wrote to Dr Edwards, this time including a copy of my own review of Dr Nichols' literature review. I also included links to the John Hopkins Psilocybin studies that highlighted the mystical aspects of a psilocybe journey and a link to the essay that I had written explaining how the use of Transcendent Compounds fits into the mystical practice of people who might identify with the Principles. 

Once again, I received no response. 

It was fairly clear by now that I wasn't going to be getting anywhere with either Dr Edwards, or the Victorian Department of Health. Undeterred, I once again wrote to Dr Edwards on 4 Jun 2012 (twice in fact!) In these two emails, I informed her both of a recent edition of the peer reviewed "Anthropology of Consciousness", that focused on the use of Ayahuasca. 

I also provided a link to the page on the website of the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies on which they list all of their linked peer reviewed literature. 

Once again, no answer was forthcoming, so in late July 2012, I once again wrote to Dr Edwards. In this email entitled "Silence", I said: 

"I grow impatient of waiting for a response from you and your department. I am tired of being treated like a "druggie" and of the religious discrimination and bigotry that has directly and negatively impacted on many areas of my life, including my ability to find suitable employment. I seek to have this issue dealt with by the end of this year, so that I may continue my studies in a Masters of Psychology in 2013, without fear of immediate deregistration on account of my religious practice. 
It has always been my desire to work with you, your department and the Victorian Government in order to achieve an outcome that is satisfactory for everyone, in that it respects the rights of thousands of Victorians to engage with their religious practice, while meeting the Government's need to be seen as having a tough, yet sensible drugs policy. 
Accordingly, I would like to meet with yourself, or a senior member of your team in order to formulate a strategy that allows you and your department to maintain ownership of the process. If you are not amenable to this, I will resume the direct lobbying of parliamentarians, who may eventually question why your department has failed to make recommendations in accordance with both the science and Victorian law. "

To my utter amazement, I received an immediate (same day!) response from Dr Edwards. Clearly having realised that she had run out of time and that I wasn't going to relent, she obviously decided to muddy the waters with some good old disinformation. I suppose that she felt her duty was to the Government and not to her fellow citizens and that further delaying my campaign however she could was the best possible outcome. Her response is worth quoting in full: 

"Dear Mr Kasarik 
You will have received a notification that  I have moved on.  I apologise if I did not respond to you prior to leaving the Mental Health & Drugs Division as I certainly thought I had.   
Your email was considered within the Division but just to let you know that it is not the responsibility of the Victorian Department of Health to decide whether psychoactive substances or "transcendent compounds" should be made available to the public.
There is a mechanism for assessing and approving substances, operated by the Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Administration, that examines evidence about the efficacy, safety and quality of medicines. This is a l complex process, and usually requires an assessment of the efficacy and safety of the products produced by well controlled randomised trials, and an inspection of the production facilities to ensure that they follow codes of good manufacturing practice.
It would therefore be more appropriate for you to contact the TGA  where an assessment by the appropriate scientists can be made, but I expect  they might be seeking evidence of safety and efficacy from randomised controlled trials in different populations.

This email is spectacularly dishonest on a number of levels. Firstly, Dr Edwards attempts to use the "I thought I had" excuse for not replying to me. Accidently not replying to one email might be considered a valid excuse. Accidently not replying to four emails can only be considered to be indicative of someone who is either far too disorganised to hold any position of authority, or simply not telling the truth. 

Secondly, she says that "it is not the responsibility of the Victorian Department of Health to decide whether psychoactive substances or "transcendent compounds" should be made available to the public". 

True. Any fool knows that it is the responsibility of the elected Government of the day to make these decisions. But that fool also knows that it is the responsibility of the Victorian Department of Health to utilise their scientific and technical expertise to make suitable recommendations to the Minister and to advise the Government appropriately.  Even more so, as the matter was specifically referred to the Department by the relevant minister in the first place. Clearly Dr Edwards has chosen to squib on that part of her job description. 

Finally, Dr Edwards is entirely misleading and deceptive when she attempts to fob me off to Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), all the while hinting why it is not even worth my time to bother. Firstly, the Australian Constitution specifically grants the Commonwealth powers and any power not so granted automatically devolves to the states. As the regulation of drugs is not mentioned within the Australian Constitution, outside of its customs powers, the Commonwealth has no power to determination what drugs are legal, or illegal. The TGA, as an agency of the Australian Commonwealth Government and has no power to direct the states to "decide whether psychoactive substances or "transcendent compounds" should be made available to the public." It certainly has no authority to adjudicate state based law, such as the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act (2006).

Secondly, the TGA exists to regulate any product for which therapeutic claims are made.  Even if its remit did extend to being able to shoehorn the states into obeying their own laws it is not the appropriate forum for determining issues related to the religious and spiritual (or even recreational) use of Transcendent Compounds, any more than it is the appropriate forum for determining issues to do with liquor licensing. 

To claim that I should go to the TGA in order to argue my case for regulated access to Transcendent Compounds for religious and spiritual purposes under Victorian statutes is at the very best abysmally ignorant and uninformed and at the worst yet another mendacious delaying tactic. 

All in all, I wasted seven valuable months attempting to deal with Dr Karleen Edwards and the Victorian Department of Health. Given the content of her email of 23 Jul 2012, and the fact that she had moved on, I didn't bother replying to her, but instead focused my efforts on the Premier's Department. 

In the last two and a half months, I have sent a total of four emails to the office of Ted Baillieu, asking in each to be able to meet with either himself, or a senior advisor, in order to discuss the issue and in order to attempt to arrive at a reasonable solution that meets both our needs. 

As of this writing it is coming into late October 2012 and it is a near certainty that my entreaties for regulated access to Transcendent Compounds for religious purposes will be once again ignored. While I suppose that I should be thankful that I have yet to be taken into custody by the police, or otherwise encroached upon by the authorities (although it wouldn't surprise me if my communications were being monitored), none of my conversations with any MPs or their staffers have filled me with any hope that they will see reason in this issue.
It seems that the last forty years of the so called "drugs debate" has consisted of people such as myself attempting to use logic, science and reason to win our freedoms, while members of the Government stand around with their fingers in their ears shouting "La La La La...". .
The rights of all Victorians to freely practice their religion are enshrined in the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, but despite this, the Government has refused to refrain from religious persecution of those who use Transcendent Compounds. It seems that the one thing that won't work are appeals to their better nature. For politicians, Transcendent Compounds are not an issue of religious freedoms, but one of adverse voter reaction, fear and moral panic. In particular, they are terrified of what the media might do to them if they appear to be "soft on drugs". While in private they might be sympathetic to our plight, they lack the courage and backbone to simply do what is right. 
As I have stated many times, I would much prefer to engage with the Government on this issue, but I would be a fool to believe that they had any interest in doing so. It is obvious that they would be perfectly happy to engage me in a ceaseless back and forth of letters, in which nothing ever changes. Accordingly, it seems that I must do something to regain the initiative and at the moment, the only thing that seems likely to do the trick is to go on a hunger strike in the Bourke Street Mall during the Christmas rush period
Whether this would work is debatable. Indeed, with their recent response to the Occupy Melbourne protesters, it is likely that the Melbourne City council would simply order my arrest after only a few days. But at least none can say that I haven't done my very best to engage with the Government on this issue and it is they who have been derelict, disrespectful and dishonest.  

However, nothing else that I do will communicate the depth of my passion for this issue and my commitment to the Principles and the religious freedoms myself and others for whom these compounds are a vital part of their spiritual journey.
It is time to end the discrimination. To end the fear. To end the persecution.
It is time to start living!


As you can surmise, Hungerstrike 2012 produced no measurable impact on the behaviour of the politicians. 

During this time I sent two letters to all of the members of parliament, which elicited responses from people acting on behalf of the Minister for Mental Health and from the Minister of Police and Emergency Services.

There are two things to note with respect to these replies. Firstly, they make absolutely no mention of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act (2006). This is a significant omission, given that my legal argument is based entirely on sections 7 and 14 of this Act. 

The second thing to note is that none of the correspondence addresses, or even acknowledges any of the peer reviewed literature on which my claims to the safety of Transcendent Compounds are based. As such, they do nothing to address the requirement that the Government needs a "demonstrably justifiable" reason in order to rescind Rights found within the Charter. 

The reply from the office of the Minister of Mental Health (which ironically was dated from the day I was tripping on the steps of parliament house, having just ended the action after 28 days) contained the expected platitudes. It bleated "public health and safety", while failing to demonstrate any justification for how a prohibition on the religious use of Transcendent Compounds is aligned with that policy.  

My response to this letter can be found here.  

The letter that I received from the Department of Justice on behalf of the Minister for Police and Emergency Services was an an altogether much more Orwellian affair. It made the usual claims about public health and safety, but then wandered even further from the reality based universe by cursing the evils of drug addiction. Once again, I am forced to respectfully inquire as to which part of non-addictive do they not understand? 

In what can only be called an act of genuine mendacity, they had the temerity to claim that the existence of organised crime and a black market for drugs is why the Victorian Government cannot obey its own laws and respect the religious freedoms of people such as myself. Anyone with any modicum of intelligence and understanding will know that the problems of organised crime and their drug super profits is a result of prohibition, not the cause. They will also know that with the exception of LSD, which is a synthetic, people such as I obtain our compounds from nature and don't pay anyone, let alone a criminal underworld for the right to do so.

You can view my own response to this silliness here.
I have now received a "Final" response from the Department of Justice, which appears to serve more as a mechanism for attempting to shut me up, rather than addressing any of the substantive issues that I have raised. While I really wish that they would join me in the reality based universe, they have somehow determined that "I have raised no new issues" so they won't be corresponding with me any further, despite the fact that they have yet to actually bother addressing any of the scientific, or legal issues that I have raised.

From here it looks like a short ride to a jail cell for me, but if and when the Government decides to take that action, they might not like the ultimate outcome. Under current law and under a fair court, there simply is no way that they can win.


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