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Byron Shire
May 22, 2024

Police surround Nimbin as MardiGrass kicks off

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mardigrassNimbin’s 24th MardiGrass starting today features a big lineup of celebrities and experts, including controversial broadcaster Derryn Hinch and actor Tony Barry, all urging reform of controversial cannabis laws in order to save lives and boost the country’s economy.

But state police will once againt lay siege to the alternative-lifestyle village with roadside drug tests, which don’t measure driving impairment, used as part of their armoury against the law-reform rally and celebration which draws thousands of people from around the country and overseas.

As medical cannabis continues on its path to legalisation and widely accepted by governments, health authorities and parents as a counter to epileptic fits in children and other ailments, the annual MardiGrass run by the Hemp End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) is more meaningful than ever,

The failed war on drugs costing Australia billions is also again on the radar of the annual protest, with many speakers set to address the various issues related to all things cannabis, including industrial hemp, food and clothing production and medicinal cannabis.

Derryn Hinch, who admits he’s never smoked tobacco ot marijuana, is slated to talk at 6pm on Saturday in a Hemposium on ‘How to achieve cannabis law reform through legislation (or not)’, hosted by Lismore solicitor Steve Bolt at the Nimbin Town Hall and also featuring the Greens’ David Shoebridge.

Mr Hinch told media his main reason for going to his first MardiGrass was to learn about medicinal cannabis.

He is standing for election to the senate this year under the ‘Derryn Hinch Justice Party’ banner and said he would lobby for cannabis law reform if he wins Ricky Muir’s Victorian seat.

‘I think it’s silly watching grown police men and police women with guns on their hips arresting pot growers,’ he told APN Media.

images‘The war on drugs hasn’t worked in this area, the government is talking about this $40 billion deficit, think of the money they can make by taxing cannabis,’ he said.

‘If the government is making so much money out of taxing cigarettes, why not make it out of cannabis.’

Mr Hinch said he’d also seen the dramatic improvement in people who turn to medicinal cannabis,  and that it ‘should have been legalised years ago’.

HEMP Embassy spokesman Michael Balderstone said ‘seems the hippies aren’t so stupid after all, again! Finally, after about eighty years, our elected rulers admitting our favourite herb is good medicine’.

‘Prohibition always was just about money, power and profit and nothing has changed. The pharmaceutical industry makes most of it’s profit at the end of your life,’ Mr Balderstone said.

‘The average person uses 50 per cent of their lifetime legal pill intake in the last six months before they die. Keeping your heart pumping with expensive pills shouldn’t be counted as living perhaps.

‘And cannabis is fantastic for old people with aches and pains and poor sleep.

‘And this is a plant that anyone can easily grow in their backyard or on a balcony in the sun. A herb our ancestors loved and no one has ever died from. How dare big business hold us to ransom on our health and our ability to enjoy our lives.

‘Fact is if you support prohibition of cannabis you support millions of people being denied access to a simple remedy that ends so much pain and suffering.

‘Cannabis is amazing for children also as they are so sensitive to herbs. Not just epilepsy but all sorts of autism, brain tumors, defects and disabilities.

‘Families are being tortured by prohibition. And so are millions of adults… in jail, or just a criminal record, or broke and homeless just to pay for the medicine that keeps them sane.

‘People are being driven mad by prohibition, by the lies, by the misunderstandings, the propaganda and lies that have spread like cane toads.

‘The police believe the lies also and no doubt all those who have been jailing and hunting pot smokers for decades are going to have trouble accepting they’ve been destroying lives rather than helping at all.

‘While our jails are overflowing and our courts are clogged, we aim to enjoy this weekend as much as possible while bringing awareness to the shocking war on drugs where cannabis is in the same basket as ice and chemical pills not owned by big pharma.

‘In Nimbin we are trying to make a difference, particularly on the cannabis laws. For decades lovers of this herbs medicinal properties have been coming to live in this area like refugees from the judgement we feel from mainstream society.

‘We dug up the history on this drug war and discovered it was all founded in greed and corruption.

‘Now the lies and fears spread by the profit makers are embedded in our culture and what was once the most popular plant on the planet is outlawed.

‘No one has ever died from cannabis use but thousands die every year from Big Pharma’s pills. We’ve been hoodwinked big time and every year we protest the shameful laws while celebrating our harvest.

‘So come to MardiGrass and learn more about this plant which is probably the most useful on the planet.

‘Stand with us against this disgusting greed which continues to keep us criminals. Join us and know that you are doing something good and important for the Earth and humanity. The law is the crime, not the plant,’ Mr Baldesrtone said

He added a word of caution to those attending saying ‘Be careful driving to MardiGrass’, as police have again committed valuable time and resources to conduct random and stationery police drug and alcohol testing around the town over the weekend.

The festivals however have a history of peace-loving celebration and no major incidents or violence has marred it, unlike local pubs and nightclubs, or even horserace meetings where alcohol is the focus and main attraction.

‘Spit testing drivers searching for traces of cannabis is how desperate they’ve become. It means a designated driver or a twelve hour break since your last toke,’ he said.

‘Come for the weekend if you can. $100 get you the Golden Bud Pass and entry into every event plus three nights camping at the showgrounds. Otherwise its $50 without camping ($20 for locals)or $30 for one day. In love, peace, and fury.’

Highlights Friday 29 April

11am  MardiGrass opens with a march for cannabis law reform from Nimbin Hospital across the road to the Police Station.

Midday-6pm: Hemposium in the Town Hall – Speakers on all aspects of cannabis over the weekend include: Ajia Mae Moon & Dana Larsen from Canada, Abe Acton from Colorado and Coral Reefer from California. And from Australia: Klara Marosszeky, Martin Erngg, Tony Bower, Dr David Caldicott, Torsten Wiedemann, Will Tregoning, Tony Barry, Greg Chipp, Derryn Hinch, Dr Alex Wodak, David Shoebridge, Professor Nick Lintzeris, Bob Hopkins, Fiona Patton, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, Dr Andrew Katelaris, Andrew Kavasilas, Michael Balderstone, Dr John Jiggens, Damon Adams, Glenn Druery, Hisashi, Wadzy Wadsworth, and many many carers and users of medical cannabis with their stories of healing like Michael Lambert, Michelle Whitelaw, Cheri O’Connell and Michael Harding, an Afghan vet from ‘Weed for Warriors’.

7.30pm: Great Green Cabaret in the Hall… fabulous fast-paced variety show featuring comedy, acrobatics, poetry, hip hop and salsa and flamenco dancers, plus singers and musicians.

5pm Opening Ceremony in Allsop Park

6pm in Indica Arena. Every evening over the weekend ‘Laughing on the Grass’, comedy followed by movies and music with Disco Sista.

HEMP BAR, home of the 4.20 and HEMP Party. Includes the Church of the Holy Smoke Blessing with the sacrificial $US100 note lighting the joint on the very moment of 4:20.

Bush Theatre by the riverside 6-11pm : Film Night and Q & A with film makers of Mullumbimby Madness, the Israeli film The Scientist and the NZ movie Druglawed. Music and good food here all weekend.

7pm: Nimbin Street Drummers

Saturday, 30 April

Plantem Park, enter beside the Nimbin Town Hall

Sativa Stadium 4:20am to Dawn, Mahawana Sunrise Meditation followed by Stoned Yoga

10.30 both days Legal Advice with Steve Bolt, especially on RDT.

Indica Arena and Town Hall 10am – 4pm : Hemposium – Talks and forums on cannabis medicine and industrial hemp.

12.00 * Tug O’ Drug War between Police and Polite with the Big Hemp Rope followed by the Hemp Olympix First Heats of  Bong Throw and Yell and Growers Ironperson Event.  Hosted by S Sorrensen and Alan Glover.

Followed by the Fringe Hemp Olympix, Beard and Dread Stash, Correct Weight, Seed Sorting, and the notorious sick and dying wheelchair obstacle course where contestants will attempt to score a Licence To Care. $2 Entry into all HEMP Olympix Events.

4pm Kombi Konvoy arrives in Nimbin, having wended its way from Byron Bay.

*4:20pm* Global Marijuana March *4:20pm* meet the Kombi Konvoy for a world record attempt at the most joints ever lit at once in the one place.

5pm HEMP Olympix Joint Rolling First Heats in the Hall

6pm: Hemposium – Pot Politix Forum

7.30 till 9pm Stand Up Comedy Show, an SSorrensen special new event HOSS, the Hemp Olympix Sports Show. With Alan Glover, Steady Eddy, Greg Sullivan, some competing athletes and overseas guests.

Nimbin Cafe – The Oasis: Open all weekend with the Green Zone chill space. 3pm Old Fashioned cooking with the Cookie Queen, stoner scrabble for the first time, massage and chess.
Midday – World Stoned Chess Championship. Winner decided by sunset. Drug testing will be compulsory, but not after every move.

Midnight Silent Doof

Sunday 1 May

Plantem Park 10am  The Pot Poet’s Breakfast……Hosted by award-winning Nimbin poet olympian David Hallett.

11am  Seed Swap   1pm   Pot Tattoo

Midday till 2pm  Hemp Olympix in Sativa Stadium Last Heats and Finals for Growers Iron Person Event & Bong Throw and Yell.

Nimbin Hall Midday – 2pm : Hemposium – Talks on cannabis law and medicine, Dr Andrew Katelaris and Dana Larsen from Canada.
12pm in Disco Sistas tent, Speaking the Truth about Cannabis with Kog
1pm Bob Hopkins, legendary MardiGrass creator returns to restore the vision.

Midday in the ‘Save Your World” tent sat and sunday medical cannabis talks in Japanese with Hisashi


5pm Joint Rolling Finals in the Hall.
Music is all over MardiGrass….with stages in the Community Market, Bush Theatre, Mingle Park, on the Hash Bowl Stage in Sativa Stadium and in the Town Hall. Also at Nimbins magical skatepark and the Oasis Cafe………….FULL PROGRAM on www.nimbinmardigrass.com

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  1. Very few sensible people argue that cannabis, or any kind of drugs, don’t impair driving skills and roadside attentiveness. More power to the cops, they’ve certainly got the rest of us on side. I for one don’t want to meet some spaced out pot head driving towards me.

    • ‘I for one don’t want to meet some spaced out pot head driving towards me.’ … but you’re ok with alcohol affected drivers (under 0.5 of course) and all those on prescription medications, opiates etc? Sensible people are asking for a sensible approach to assessing driver impairment. There’s nothing sensible about a program that clearly seeks to target cannabis users irrespective of whether they are impaired or not, while completely ignoring those affected by a wide range of debilitating and dangerous drugs. ‘More power to the cops’ will do little for road safety without an evidence based testing program that actually targets impaired drivers.

    • ‘Stoners’ have never and will never cause a road accident, meanwhile iggnorance and alchahol kill people every day go Figure, get your heads out of the sand Hemp Heals ! Cannabis Creates!

    • I agree if you are totally wasted then you shouldn’t be driving but this system of testing is so flawed and inconsistent people have been arrested that don’t ever touch pot only to be let off after blood tests weeks later and it has no consistent way of analysing the amount of “intoxication”.
      I suppose you also think that if its in your system weeks after using that work places can dismiss and sack you for being intoxicated? If the effect lasted this long then every user would only smoke once a month for a long lasting effect.

    • If youqualified that with ‘when inebriated’, you are correct.
      But the fact is that these tests pick cannabis up well after the inebriation phase has long passsed. Indeed, there are records of detection after 9 days.
      So, If you think losing your license because the officers have detected that you ‘drank alcohol in hte last few days’ would be wrong, you must then take a stand against the curernt testing methodology as well.

  2. This comment by Jon reflects the ignorance and prejudice that underlies and sustains the prohibition of marijuana. Anyone who has ever tried marijuana knows that it actually makes you far more risk averse than being straight and therefore potentially safer on the roads. While there is little if any scientific studies on the impairment effect of marijuana in the Australian context, numerous studies have been done overseas in the UK and the US in particular, where recreational use of marijuana has been legalized in several states, the results of which demonstrate that drivers under the influence of marijuana actually decrease their average speed and increase the distance to the car in front, the exact opposite of the effects of alcohol on drivers. Personally, I find I am much more careful and cautious and slower driving when stoned compared to being straight, so Jon, you would probably prefer to meet me driving towards you while on pot rather than not. Furthermore, the cops already have too much power and they routinely abuse it. There is not much regard for basic human rights and civil liberties coming from police and politicians these days and it’s hardly any surprise that so many people hold the sort of opinions expressed here by Jon, when so little attention is given to the issue of human rights and civil liberties by media and their corporate owners who pretend to champion freedom and democracy while doing everything in their power to undermine what little bit of freedom we have left.


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