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Byron Shire
May 7, 2021

MardiGrass a success despite anger over drug testing

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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.

The Ganja Faeries again stole the show and many hearts during the parade.

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

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  1. With all that anger about police testing about, the sooner the equipment gets upgraded the better. There’s clearly still a crying need to save lives on those roads up there.

  2. Jon, you’re right again !
    Extremely RIGHT. but perhaps it’s genetic.
    Those roads up there are nothing short of suicidal and are in dire need of spending, in order to rectify the decades of incompetent and deliberately underfunded infrastructure.
    But what do the authorities do ? they spend millions on futile drug tests and the unemployable riff raff, that make up the mighty NSW corps, in an attempt to lift their public profile and morale at a time when so many of their colleagues are facing criminal charges. This action may have some small effect in lowering the relatively benign use of hemp but cannot detect opiates,ice or even the prescription drugs, that to my way of thinking pose a much greater risk to drivers and the public in general.

  3. I believe in legalisation for MEDICINAL purposes but right now marijuana is still illegal. I’ve been to mardigrass and you can’t tell me that all 8000 to 10,000 attendees are so unwell that they need to be under the influence! No matter what comparison you make, it is still a risk to drivers. And I can’t imagine young people at a party are smoking because of pain, so what do you want Mr Baulderstone? Legalisation of medicinal marijuana or legalisation so everyone can get stoned? You are confusing the two. If you just want to get stoned then I’m sorry but the police have a job to do. I don’t want you endangering the lives of me or my children.

  4. It’s always about the children, eh?
    “Wont somebody think of the children.”
    It’s a default slogan when there’s nothing else to bolster an argument.

    • You’re a legend Klav! “Wont somebody please think of the children?” I think mrs Lovejoy summed up best the use of kids to try and push uninformed, conservative, reactionary bull-plop. Apparently my 3 kids add weight to anything i say if i put a fearful spin on my opponents argument. BTW when was the last accident caused soley because of marijuana use? The other thing these wowzers do is cry “Drugs!” “drugs are bad and marijuanas a drug so there’s nothing you can say.” Yeah well, chemotherapy requires drugs and alcohol is a poison so nice try mrs Lovejoy.

  5. This ongoing was on drugs is such an outrageous waste of public resources. People who have drug problems need help, not punishment. Everyone else should be free to alter their consciousness as they see fit. That is, if we value freedom at all.

    Sniffer dogs are a case in point, and have been exposed as an excuse for police to perform illegal random searches, as most of the time the dogs simply get it wrong.

    And what is the deal with these roadside tests for cannabis? Pot effects the user for no more than a couple of hours, so where’s the justice in depriving someone of their license for three months when their driving is in no way impaired by the fact that they may have smoked a joint the previous day?

    In the case of alcohol small amounts are permissible because it is understood that small amounts will not impair driving to a significant degree. Until a similar test is developed that can measure levels of impairment from cannabis or other drugs, these roadside drug tests should be banned.

    And if you’re tempted to argue ‘well, it’s against the law, so you shouldn’t be doing it’, then we have to look at why such an unjust law exists. People are free to harm themselves (& others) through excessive use of cigarettes and alcohol if they wish, yet a relatively benign and even medically beneficial drug like cannabis is outlawed.

    It’s pure madness and must change.

  6. The Draeger Drug Test 5000 is the equipment that allows for the dramatic increase in road side drug testing as any cop in any car trained in its use can use it ergo no different to breathalyzer for ethanol.

    From researching it seems to me the Draeger tests for a wide range of drugs including opiates and benzodiazepines (ie Valium). The reason driving on opiates is unenforced is, it is impossible to tell if the driver consumed an illicit opiate as legal codeine is metabolized into morphine. No enforcement on prescription drugs because it is not illegal to drive under their influence just as you can be tipsy from booze and be legal i.e. 0.45%

    All political parties said cannabis road side testing was only about impairment and not to punish people who choose to use cannabis. The study confirming the efficacy of the Draeger 5000 proves intentionally or unintentionally its persecution without driving impairment. The study found the median time (half positive half negative) for occasional users was 12 hours and for frequent users 21 hours. Fascinating and alarming is amongst frequent users one tested negative one hour post consuming a 6.5% joint while three were still positive at thirty hours.

  7. Really….a long time methadone user told me a few weeks ago about how many times they have nodded off at the wheel doing 100klms an hour, do you know how many of those people are on our roads……no tests.


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