Nimbin. Friday, 5.55pm
‘Whoa! Look at that!’ says a big bloke with a big red beard, pointing across the road as he leaves the pub. His excitement is so great he stumbles over the step onto the footpath, losing a thong.
‘Must have a been a bumper crop…’ He does a nifty little dance to regain his footing. ‘Bloody hell!’
There’s a limo stretched across four parking bays in Nimbin’s main drag. It’s an unusual sight in a village more accustomed to old Kombis, dirty Subarus and police cars than to this spotless white monster with tinted windows.
Another man, skinny, no beard, and in a blue bandana, skips nimbly onto the footpath from the pub. He checks out the stretch limo.
‘Cool,’ says Bandana Boy. ‘Wouldn’t mind one of those.’
Big Bloke looks at him, wriggling his foot into the errant thong.
‘What for? ‘ he says. ‘Wouldn’t even get up your driveway.’
‘Ya reckon they have stretch utes?’ asks Bandana Boy.
A woman with long grey hair wanders down from the Hemp Embassy and joins the men on the footpath. She squints across the road.
‘I reckon it’s that mob from Canada,’ she says.
‘What mob from Canada?’ asks Big Bloke.
‘That mob that’s gonna grow cannabis in Casino,’ she says.
‘I know a bloke growing in Casino,’ says Bandana Boy.
‘No. Not like that. These Canadians are growing it for money,’ she says.
‘So’s my mate…’
‘No, no. This mob is gonna do it big time. The Richmond Valley Council is going to help them. Give them land and everything.’
Both men turn to her in disbelief.
‘Casino?’ they say. ‘Really?’
‘Bloody hell,’ says Big Bloke, shaking his head. Then he smiles: ‘Is pot legal now? Can I grow my own?’
‘No. Just those Canadian blokes. You can’t grow any. You’re not a multinational company. Governments love multinationals.’
Big Bloke stamps his thong firmly on: ‘That’s just not bloody fair. Casino is Beef Capital. Nimbin is Cannabis Capital. Everyone knows that. They got Miss Beef; we got ganga faeries. They should stick to what they know. I won’t be smoking their weed.’
‘It’s not for smoking; it’s for medicine,’ the woman says. ‘And that’s what really annoys me. Nimbin has been leading the fight for medical cannabis for years despite the government and the police harrassing the shit out of this town – and now Big Canna is moving in from overseas for the big bucks and the government is falling over themselves to accommodate them. Makes me wanna puke.’
The trio goes silent. They stare at the stretch limo.
‘100,000 kilos a year,’ says the woman.
‘What!?’ says Bandana Boy.
‘Bloody hell,’ says Big Bloke.
‘Biggest crop in Australia,’ says the woman.
‘That’s a lot money, that is,’ says Big Bloke.
‘No wonder they’re riding around in a bloody stretch limo,’ says Bandana Boy. ‘Bloody Yanks.’
‘Canadians,’ says Big Bloke.
‘Whatever,’ says Bandana Boy. ‘The money goes OS.’
‘Yeah. Could have been a substantial cottage industry for locals,’ says the woman. ‘We got the expertise, that’s for sure. And the money would stay local.’
‘I wonder if the nine cops stationed in Nimbin will go to Casino now,’ says Big Bloke.
‘Naw. I reckon the government will always hassle Nimbin,’ says Bandana Boy.
‘It means we’re doing something right,’ says the woman.
The men smile.
‘Still, I wouldn’t mind a spin in that Canadian mob’s limo,’ says Bandana Boy.
The woman smiles.
‘Actually,’ she says over her shoulder, heading back towards the Hemp Embassy, ‘I think the stretch limo is for the local kids’ HSC graduation tonight…’
‘Bloody hell,’ says Big Bloke.
‘I wanna be a dope grower,’ says Bandana Boy.