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May 18, 2022

Court protest planned to support Nimbin’s ‘lane boys’

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A gathering will be held outside the Lismore Court House on Monday to support the young men caught up in Operation Cuppa. (file pic)
A gathering will be held outside the Lismore Court House on Monday to support the young men caught up in Operation Cuppa. (file pic)

A protest will be held outside the Lismore Court House on Monday to support the ‘lane boys’ caught up by a police operation targeting drug supply in Nimbin.

Operation Cuppa has resulted in 32 people arrested and charged following a lengthy period of surveillance by police.

Charges have included consorting, supply prohibited drug, knowingly take part in supply of prohibited drug, proceeds of crime and participate in a criminal group.

But supporters of the ‘lane boys’ argue the police are targeting the cannabis trade while allowing ice dealers unfettered access to the village.

On Monday the court is expected to set hearing dates and decide which charges would be handed to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Only 8 of the ‘lane boys’ have been granted permission to return to Nimbin. The rest have been refused entry to town or within 15 kms of town.

Many of the accused are unable to see or speak to each other for any reason as they are charged with consorting.

Nimbin’s Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone is urging anyone with an interest in medicinal cannabis to turn up on Monday ‘to show they care’.

‘In todays anxiety-ridden, fearful society it’s easy to put your head down and ignore the injustices that one hears of, but in fact it’s an opportunity for making a difference,’ Mr Balderstone said.

‘Many of the people caught in the nets of Operation Cuppa are much more dolphin than shark and hopefully the courts will sort out who’s who but meanwhile waiting months for court cases to be heard is very stressful and expensive and many families lives have been completely disrupted.

‘Does anyone consider the holistic effect?

‘Operation Cuppa has had a huge impact on our one pub village and few raids have ever exposed the futility of prohibition more.

‘The damage done by making this pain-relieving herb illegal continues unabated which is ludicrous considering what is happening in other western countries now with the benefits of medical cannabis accepted and appreciated.

‘If you cannot attend there is a better way to show your support and that is to make an appointment with your local MP, State or Federal, and talk to them about how the war on cannabis (and other drugs not owned by the pharmaceutical industry) is affecting your family’s life.

‘Most politicians spend their life on soft carpet and are a long way from the back lanes created by prohibition and it’s up to us to let them know what’s going on.’

When officers from Operation Cuppa first swooped on the village and other locations towards the end of June this year, police alleged the primary targets of the operation were living a ‘gangster-style’ lifestyle on the Gold Coast.

Richmond Local Area Command detective chief inspector Cameron Lindsay said the accused were living in lavish-style houses unsupported by any form of income, any form of work, frequenting casinos and driving flash cars and the like.

At a subsequent support rally for those arrested however, supporters described the young men arrested as ‘community-minded’, ‘honest’ and ‘polite’. They were ‘a group of young men who staunchly oppose the sale of ice [methamphetamine] in Nimbin’.

Nimbin Action Group spokesperson Sofia Hoeben said the lane boys routinely undertake ‘scum patrol’ which identifies and makes ice and ‘hard drug’ dealers unwelcome in Nimbin.


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  1. With upwards towards 30% of the Australian economy operating in the illegal black market, Nimbin, I would estimate, features well up near the top of tax avoiders. (Strictly guessing).
    The question left hanging is, does the police operation “cuppa” aimed at drug dealers, mask an official raid for lost taxes?
    If so, the simple solution for the government, is to decriminalise and regulate the sale and growing for profit, of cannabis. After which, the policing of the trade can be done under existing marketing rules for tax payment.
    Let’s all be honest. It’s about money on every level!


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