Cannabis law-reform campaigners, buoyed by the legalisation of recreational marijuana use in two US states and Uruguay this year, will highlight Australia’s continuing prohibition ‘nightmare’ at this weekend’s 22nd annual Nimbin Mardi Grass.
Organisers of the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) festival and drug law-reform rally on Saturday and Sunday say their patience is wearing thin with parliamentary representatives not standing up for their communities, and have planned a march from Lismore Court House to the offices of local MPs in the town today (Thursday).
They’ve dubbed this year’s annual event a ‘Protestival’ with a theme of ‘Colorado Dreaming’, a reference to one of the two US states that legalised recreational cannabis earlier this year in the wake of up to 16 states there approving the drug for medical use over recent years.
Medicinal-cannabis advocate Tony Bower, who was controversially jailed last year by a Kempsey magistrate for growing cannabis plants for his medical-cannabis tincture, will be a keynote speaker at one of the festival forums.
Another will be the political fixer known as ‘the preference whisperer’, Glenn Druery, who’s been credited with the shock success of minor single-issue parties at last year’s federal election.
Ironically, it was the involvement of the HEMP Party in a preference-swap deal with other minor parties under an arrangement promoted by Mr Druery that sparked angry resignations from the organisation.
Other minor parties such as the Stop CSG Party and WikiLeaks Party also copped flak for their preference swaps, which critics say put parties such as the Shooters and Fishers ahead of the Greens.
Before last year’s federal poll, Mr Druery arranged senate preferences for an alliance of 35 micro-parties advocating a range of single issues, including cannabis decriminalisation.
As a result, some of those candidates scraped in with a tiny share of the primary vote, sparking criticism of the senate voting system as flawed and complicated.
Other ‘special guests’ include Liberal-National Party Queensland MP Jason Woodforth.
This weekend, thousands of people are again expected to make the annual pilgrimage to Nimbin in a show of support for drug law reform and to join Sunday’s main-street rally.
As usual, a police operation using drug-detection units and dogs, mounted police and extra officers from outside the region will be conducted during the two days of the festival.
HEMP Embassy spokesman Michael Balderstone said, ‘there’s a whiff of change in the air as cannabis lovers from all around the world and Australia converge on the village for a weekend to celebrate all things cannabis’.
‘Imagine peace and prosperity and a fair go, rather than persecution of a much-loved plant and its protectors,’ he said in the annual event preview.
‘What were the ANZACs fighting for? Surely not an eternal war on our own children like the American-led War on Drugs has become,’ he said.
‘Isn’t it time for the cannabis plant to start flourishing economically on behalf of the community, not the criminal?
‘This is already happening in Uruguay in South America, as well as in two US states, Colorado and Washington, which have legalised cannabis use for not only medical purposes but for those who simply enjoy the herb recreationally.
‘When will Australia be jolted out of the prohibition nightmare?’ he said.
The festival includes talks and workshops, plant freedom forums, comedy shows and entertainment, the ‘world famous’ Hemp Olympix (joint rolling, growers iron person event, and bong throw and yell), and Tug of Drug War between the Polite and the police.
Other events include hemp masonry talks and demonstration, the Kombi Konvoy and the Million Marijuana March and mass smoke-in.
For the latest program and tickets visit www.NimbinMardiGrass.com.
Police say 86 drivers were detected driving under the influence of a prohibited drug during Nimbin's annual MardiGrass festival at the weekend.
Thousands of people from the region and around the globe again made the annual pilgrimage to the Nimbin MardiGrass at the weekend, the one day of the year where cannabis lovers come together in solidarity to celebrate a much maligned illegal herb.