Although shrouded in a little mist, Nimbin’s MardiGrass Parade on Sunday was held in perfect weather. Thousands rolled into town for the annual Police Swab Fest and Mardi Grass.
By Darren Coyne
Nimbin MardiGrass organisers have hailed this year’s event a success despite heavy policing on the roads in and out of the village.
As weary festival-goers prepare to leave this morning, police have once again set up drug-testing stations on the outskirts of the village.
Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said many people in the village were angry and felt they were being picked on as an easy target by police.
‘There’s been a million warnings but still people think they’ll be okay,’ he said.
Mr Balderstone said people were angry because the new drug testing equipment being used by police was extremely sensitive and detected cannabis traces days after use, regardless of whether the driver was impaired or not.
The testing devices do not detect opiates or pharmaceutical medications, which are known to impair driving.
He said medical cannabis and new technology for roadside drug testing were the two big issues debated at the cannabis law-reform event.
‘We know it’s really not about impairment, cannabis stays in your blood so long, we’re getting trapped in the tests, and it’s actually pushing people to try other drugs so they won’t get caught.
‘Young people are telling me if they’re going to a party, and there’s lots of police around, sniffer dogs, saliva testing, they’re not going to smoke pot! They’ll take a pill, you won’t get detected, there’s no smell…’
‘In country areas if people are losing their licenses they will be unable to get to work and can lose their jobs.’
Despite the heavy policing, Mr Balderstone said this year’s gathering had gone well.
‘Numbers were down a bit because of the rain and the saliva testing but reckon we will be able to cover our costs,’ he said.
‘It was a nice sized crowd and we all had a great time.’
He said crews of volunteers would begin cleaning up after the festival this morning