North Coast cannabis users will be protesting outside Lismore MP Thomas George’s office later this month as part of their continued opposition to roadside drug testing for cannabis.
The gathering is expected to ask Mr George to speak with National Party leader Troy Grant about the impacts the roadside testing regime is having in the region.
At a similar protest last month, about 50 people gathered outside the Lismore courthouse, while more than 50 people appeared before a magistrate inside the court, charged with drug driving.
Opponents argue that the roadside testing regime detects the presence of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but does not test for actual driver impairment.
They say THC remains in a person’s system for days, if not weeks, whereas other drugs such as amphetamines disappear quickly.
As a result, a person who may have smoked a joint days before driving, can still be detected, potentially losing their license and copping a fine.
Echonetdaily has reported previously that the actual testing devices being used by police have on a number of occasions resulted in ‘false positives’, meaning drugs are being detected when the person has not indulged.
Nimbin Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said the peaceful protest outside Mr George’s office would be held on Monday, January 25, at 11am.
In a letter to Mr George, Mr Balderstone said he did not expect any trouble, but would rather be asking Mr George to take a letter and a book to Mr Grant, who is also the police minister.
‘As you know there are many, many daily Cannabis users on the North Coast who have been smoking for years and have totally fine driving records,’ Mr Balderstone said.
‘And in countries and the 23 American States with legal Cannabis, driving has not shown to be a problem.
‘In fact the opposite Thomas, with early statistics showing a fall in car accidents in those States, along with a sharp drop in suicides and opioid overdose deaths, and arrests of course.’
Mr Balderstone said cannabis users were not against drug testing completely.
‘We are all for stopping impaired drivers but this is not about impairment,’ he said.
‘Drivers are being busted after having a pipe a day or even two or three before. ‘Some people are clearly changing their drug habits for the worse because as you know all other drugs are out of your system very quickly compared to Cannabis, which your body wants to hold on to it seems.’
Mr Balderstone also said, as the Echonetdaily has reported, that the so-called random tests are not random at all.
Once a driver has returned a positive reading, their car is flagged by police, meaning the chance of them being pulled over again increases.
‘No other country is doing this testing Thomas, and no other country has banned eating hempseed, which is because of this testing,’ he said.
Mr Balderstone also raised the issue of medical cannabis.
‘Legal medical Cannabis is imminent and I know you support it Thomas so we have to sort out driving at some point and the sooner the better,’ he said.
‘I appreciate you have limited power but you have a lot more than any of us and as an MP representing thousands of medical Cannabis users in this area I know you will go in to bat for us as best you can.
‘I think you have to convince Mr Grant that Cannabis is not the monster he thinks it is.’