Activists say they are undeterred that Lismore MP Thomas George was not present when they gathered outside his office this week to protest against the roadside drug-testing regime.
About 70 people gathered to voice their concerns against the tests, which detect cannabis and other drugs, but do not test for impairment.
Recent figures show that up to one in four drivers tested in the northern rivers were returning positive tests, although NSW Police do not say which drug – cannabis, Ice or Ecstasy – is most prevalent.
Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said a number of people present at the protest had stories of losing their licences, and the impact it as having on their lives.
He said a change.org petition online had garnered more than 10,000 signatures and the popularity of north coast based Facebook site showing random drug testing locations showed that people were increasingly aware of the unfairness of the testing regime.
‘No one tries to cheat or get around the breathalyser do they?’ he said.
‘Because we all agree impaired driving is not on and we know alcohol does impair driving.
‘Cannabis users are devising all sorts of ways to avoid testing positive because there is no respect for these tests.’
‘Unfortunately it is looking more and more like a lifestyle or culture war by the police on cannabis users.
‘In fact it is pushing people needing pain relieve into deeper water as they experiment with less safe drugs which they know will not lose their licence.’
Mr Balderstone said despite Mr George not being present at the protest, a book and a letter would be delivered to him this week to pass onto the leader of the National Party, Troy Grant.
The letter is as follows.
Dear Mr Grant.
We are very concerned about the consequences of your new drug driver testing regime. We believe cannabis users are in a unique situation in that the herb is fat soluble and stay in ones body much longer than all other drugs. Months in your blood, weeks in your urine and days in your saliva.
Yes, it is illegal but medical cannabis is under review at the moment and we think losing ones licence is a disproportionate punishment compared to a caution for fifteen grams or less.
Long term medical users are losing their licences and often their job goes with it. I’m not talking about young people so much as long term cannabis users who don’t use other drugs, until now. There are many who have stopped cannabis and are now using drugs that will not test positive, like pharmaceuticals, cocaine, heroin, alcohol or ice and chemical pills which they know are out of their system overnight. No one is sure how long cannabis stays in our saliva, including the police.
Medical cannabis is truly on the political agenda now and we need to sort the driving side of this out. No other country is doing this testing. In fact car accidents numbers are down in the states of America where medical cannabis is now legal. Most studies done on driving with cannabis usually show no impairment if not the opposite!
We are also the only country on Earth not allowed to eat hempseed because of this testing and police fear the seed may interfere with test results.
This book Chasing the Scream is a gift we would love you to read and then pass on to your colleagues. It explains well how the war on drugs is really a war on people who are hurting. Please give it a go with an open mind.
Yours sincerely, Michael
President, Australian HEMP Party
President, Nimbin HEMP Embassy