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Byron Shire
December 4, 2021

Hemp Embassy slams ‘everyday’ roadside drug tests

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Nimbin HEMP Embassy president Michael Balderstone. (file pic)
Nimbin HEMP Embassy president Michael Balderstone. (file pic)

Darren Coyne

 The Nimbin Hemp Embassy has hit back at reports local police are being issued with mobile drug testing machines next year to use ‘everyday’ on local drivers.

Richmond and Tweed Byron Highway Patrol cluster supervisor Senior Sergeant Chad George told APN media recently that the Drager DrugTest machine would be kept at Lismore police station from May 2015.

The device detects the presence of cannabis, methamphetamine, amphetamines and cocaine in a driver’s oral fluid.

Sgt George said local police could use the device everyday rather just at special events such as Nimbin Mardi Grass or local music festivals.

But the Nimbin Hemp Embassy said the devices would lead to more ‘deluded harassment of cannabis users’.

Embassy president Michael Balderstone said the device seemed destined for next year’s Mardi Grass, and would unfairly impact on people using cannabis as medicine.

‘Protecting your own health will become more difficult for medical marijuana users when police, with increased power for detecting medicine, intimidate more motorists with the fear of prosecution,’ Mr Balderstone said in a statement. ‘Choosing between suffering disease or driving a car will be easy for some people while others contemplate their level of freedom.’

Earlier this year, Echonetdaily reported that Lismore magistrates were raising the difficulties of sentencing motorists caught with cannabis in their systems.

Both magistrates David Heilpern and Jeff Linden were reported as saying that while cannabis could be detected days, or even weeks, after use, there was no firm evidence that it impaired a driver’s ability.

Mr Balderstone said police should take note of the magistrates’ concerns.

‘The Police should absolutely consider the recent statements from Lismore magistrates re drug driving cases where it was clearly pointed out that impairment need not have anything to do with drivers registering positive for cannabis in their system,’ Mr Balderstone said.

‘The test is solely about detecting cannabis in your system. It has nothing to do with impaired driving.

‘Unlike other drugs which pass through the body in a day or so, cannabis being fat soluble, lingers on for up to three months.

‘Not just in Nimbin but all over Australia hitch hiking will be booming and people will be unable to get to work if they pursue this new testing like they do alcohol roadside testing.’

NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay justified the roll out of drug testing equipment by saying that 11 per cent of fatalities on the state’s roads involved drivers or riders with illicit drugs in their system.

Mr Balderstone said the figures were ‘totally distorted’, and that the social cost on communities would be huge.

‘Discretionary profiling of ‘undesirables’ will weed out the workforce and increase the rate of crime,’ he said.

‘Idiotic policing on the unsound evidence of impairment will cause more disrespect for the law.’

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  1. What a step backward. That is even worse than some other countries. I say test the cops first.
    Crack down on the real hard drug. Alcohol.
    When this gets out wait till your tourist numbers fall in protest!!!

  2. The learned magistrates are talking through their proverbial. Why else would drug testers ever have been invented if they weren’t useful for detecting junkies on the road? They’re certainly at odds with professional opinion everywhere.
    It’s clear to blind Freddy that impairment is inevitable from overuse of drugs as well as alcohol.
    I think these judges should move on and get jobs where they don’t add to social problems.

    • Jon, the report in that article is flawed in so many ways it is simply pathetic.
      Someone smokes a joint, and 80 days later they get busted for driving under the influence? Lord love us, that is illogical, insane and totally immoral.
      If you are going to base your opinions on such flawed reports then it is best you keep your opinions to yourself for you sir are that far from being right that you are not even wrong.

  3. Interesting that opiates aren’t on the list. My cynical brain says if they tested all drivers for “drugs” thousands of oldies stoned on prescription painkillers would lose their licences. Bad politics

  4. Okay. Let all the ‘kiddies’ dine on Shrooms and acid (cant detect those up with the piggies test). Pot does not let you ignore that noise in your diff….hence drive slower…listening….

    Let the roads be full of teenagers being chased by Demons instead,…

  5. so what is the difference between someone who is affected by alcohol and drives and someone who is affected by drugs and drives? wonder if your opinion would change if some druggie crashed into your family and killed or injured them. if you think this is harsh dont come to victoria, as our drink driving laws are tougher than NSW and most highway patrol cars have the drug testing equipment in the vehicle, and the test is done on the side of the road.

  6. Excellent article by Michael Balderstone…..cannabis users have never been a problem on the roads. The road side testing is about drug companies who devised the test (Merek) making a lot of money. The professor who wrote the damning article about marijuana and driving had previously written that “marijuana users appear to compensate for their altered consciousness by driving more safely than drivers who had had nothing” (l998), several years later the same professor wrote a damning report stating marijuana drivers were a serious threat to driving safety. I have both these articles in my “files”. Would also like to know what chemicals are used in the saliva test, would suggest that these chemicals are toxic.

  7. States that have saliva testing in DWI LAW

    1. Arkansas 2. Oklahoma 3. North Dakota 4. New York 5. Missouri 6. Michigan 7. Utah

    8. Colorado 9. California 10. Puerto Rico

    States that can test ANY bodily fluid

    1. Georgia 2. Indiana 3. Kansas 4. Louisiana 5. Massachusetts 6. North Carolina

    7. South Dakota
    In Arkansas,
    The saliva test can be given after
    Probable cause for a traffic stop
    Reasonable suspicion that they are under the influence
    Give a field sobriety test
    If failure give the OralTox saliva test
    If pass the field sobriety test send on their way.
    Go to http://www.gotchadwi.com for more information
    This test will SAVE LIVES


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