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Byron Shire
February 26, 2021

Drug-driving rally outside Lismore court house

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Members of Nimbin's 'Polite' force outside the Lismore court house this morning. (Darren Coyne)
Members of Nimbin’s ‘Polite’ force outside the Lismore court house this morning. (Darren Coyne)

A Lismore solicitor believes the local court system is being clogged up with drug driving cases which often lead to unfair results for people.

Solicitor Steve Bolt said many people were losing their licences despite the drug testing regime showing no impairment.

Mr Bolt spoke to Echonetdaily outside the court house as a group of protestors gathered to damn the road-side drug testing in the region.

Member’s of Nimbin’s Polite Force were on hand to carry out ‘impairment tests’ in an effort to show there are better ways to weed out bad drivers.

Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said in places like America there is no testing for impairment for cannabis users.

‘If you look like you are impaired you have to get out of the car and walk the line or stand on one foot,’ he said.

‘Yet a lot of people have lost their licences and a lot of daily cannabis users are not going out anymore because of this.’

Hemp farmer Andrew Kavasilas said the drug testing regime was holding back the lucrative hemp food industry in Australia.

‘The government is trying to get an industrial hemp industry happening, as well as medical cannabis, but all of this could be held up by the police because they say it effects their drug testing,’ he said.

‘People are also switching to other drugs.’

Karen Stuart told the gathering that her husband Simon took his own life almost three years.

‘The stigma he faced from family and employers took him to the point where he stopped smoking cannabis,’ she said.

‘His pain levels increased to that day when he decided he couldn’t do it anymore.’

She urged people to continue fighting the oppression, and to know their rights.

Organisers have argued that the drug-testing regime catches cannabis users however the tests do not determine that drivers are impaired in any way.

Just last week, 69 people fronted Lismore court charged with drug driving offences.

A common defence is that the driver may have smoked cannabis in the days prior to driving, or consumed hemp products.

Mr Balderstone said the thousands of daily cannabis users in Australia  were now risking their their jobs whenever they drive ‘as the random tests are certainly random in whose saliva registers green or not’.

‘Some people can stub out a joint when the police pull them over and it doesn’t register while others may have had a toke the day before, or even not, and do register,’ Mr Balderstone said.

‘The government website’s advice says cannabis registers in your saliva from two to 10 hours afterwards, which doesn’t help much.

‘Clearly many drivers are choosing to use other drugs that  are not tested for and that is harmful.’

‘There were 69 drug driving charges in Lismore court last Monday and truly, daily pot users – and there’s a lot of them – are feeling it big time.

‘The police were saliva testing on the Nimbin road again Friday and it’s definitely affecting tourism here as well as locals visiting Lismore, or even going out.

‘It’s not just losing your licence and maybe job, but it’s being exposed as a criminal cannabis user and being targeted further down the line.

Nick the Hippy successfully walks the line outside Lismore court house this morning. (Darren Coyne)
Nick the Hippy successfully walks the line outside Lismore court house this morning. (Darren Coyne)

‘There are thousands of north coasters who use cannabis daily like I do because we discovered its the medicine that works for us without any hangover or negative side effects.

‘It’s our choice of medicine. Many of us rarely drink alcohol or use pharmaceutical products. Give the police a break, drug use is a health issue.’



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  1. I am quite happy that we don’t have any drug affected drivers on our roads. Having seen someone stoned drive very haphazardly then it cannot be condoned. How can a person who can barely talk or make any sensible conversation be ok to drive? And what has smoking marijuana got to do with the hemp food industry?

    • Er…hello? Marijuana=Cannabis=Hemp= all illegal drugs….not always used to get high….. hemp as food? still classified illegal drug… not used to get high. Police…..after users of illegal drugs….hemp as food…not to get high….registers as illegal drug… get it now???

  2. What about the people they give methadone too at clinics then give a licence in the other hand , and send em off home on the methadone so they go to the pub and have beers which can stop their heart when mixed with methadone , so they have a heart attack while driving fully legal they are not over the limit they will not test pos on any road side test cause it wont test for it !! and they run into me head on killing them selfs and almost me with them , Thanks for supplying them the drugs to almost kill me and to kill themselves and giving them a licence to drive as well !! Its cost her life and me over 40 grand lucky it wasnt my life as well !!! And the govt gave her them drugs and a licence to drive

  3. This gets ridiculous! How do you show ‘no impairment’ until an accident actually happens? I hope the police note the faces and names of this crowd and are ready for them next time they get stopped on the road.

    I blame that dopey magistrate in Lismore who tells them they shouldn’t have been charged in the first place. They’re all hoping to come before him.

  4. There needs to be a system where you can work out if you have too much THC in your system to drive, just like with alcohol, there should be a limit.

    Meanwhile people high on heroin, oxy contin, endone, xanax and just about all other pharmaceutical drugs can drive around in a total daze and pass the road side drug tests, what an absolute joke. And meth clears out of ones system much faster than cannabis, so essentially some people are going to use meth and drive instead of weed… Ummm.

    I’d like to know how long after I use cannabis that I am allowed to legally drive, is it 3 hours, is it 5 hours is it 10 or 15 hours? I can tell you after 5 hours from last using cannabis there is no way I am stoned anymore and my driving would not be impaired at all.

  5. It is absolutely absurd that there is no legal level of THC allowable by law in the saliva or the bloodstream – as there is with that much more dangerous drug, alcohol.

    Even the slightest trace of THC – which I’m told can be detected from a smoke many hours, days or even weeks previously – will get you convicted of Driving Under the Influence. You’ll lose your License, perhaps your job, get fined, and even face gaol time.

    And in the absence of an allowable level, there should be an impairment test for people who test positive for THC in their systems, if they’re picked up in a random roadside test without having driven erratically and without having being pulled over for doing something wrong.

    Surely these roadside testing units could have a driving simulator – basically a computer game coupled to a steering wheel and pedals – which can test your reaction times, and test whether you correctly handle their on-screen simulations of sudden driving emergencies.

    As a cannabis user of many year standing, I am convinced that I’m safer behind the wheel having had a smoke rather than being straight. I am so much more focussed on the driving, so much more attuned as regards my senses, calmer and therefore less likely to speed. My eyes continually scan the road ahead, and look further ahead than otherwise.

    When driving while straight, I often find myself on auto-pilot.. in charge of the car well enough, but totally unfocused on the driving – my mind a million miles away. My gaze sometimes drifts off the road, and I’m driving with not much more than peripheral vision. No problems, until the unexpected happens.

    When straight, my speeds tend to drift up to around 10-20k over the limit, whereas when stoned I scrupulously observe speed limits.

    When, Oh when are our politicians going to grow some brains and stop demonising this herb? William Randolph Hearst and Harry Anslinger are two Americans from early last Century who have a huge burden of guilt for the way they’ve destroyed so many lives worldwide in getting almost all countries of the world to declare it illegal.

  6. How long after is safe for the tests? Maybe 48 hours but I’m guessing!
    Seems the roadside test is for 10ng/ml THC whereas workplace testing, like a crane driver, is for 50ng/ml…like .05 becomes .01
    The police say because its illegal any amount is a bust and the charge is not about impaired driving at all, the court charge is THC in your system while driving.
    Colorado and American states with legal medical cannabis have seen a drop in car accidents, alcohol use, opiate overdoses and suicides. They test for impairment by walking in line or whatever, easy to see if someone is impaired once they get out of the car.
    Still, there is a big difference between someone who smokes daily and someone who had their first joint! Or someone who had their first joint after a couple of beers!
    I suspect I’m more dangerous on the road without my daily and usual medication! Its a culture war I actually suspect. The police and politicians don’t like weed, it gets people thinking!


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