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Byron Shire
October 25, 2021

MardiGrass 2018: crowds defy cops 25 years running

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In a year that saw hemp foods finally decriminalised and some small progress on medical marijuana, the weekend’s Nimbin MardiGrass renewed its struggle for complete legalisation.

But event organiser Michael Balderstone said there were ‘still lots of obstacles’ to decriminalisation in Australia.

‘It’s a medicinal herb as far as I’m concerned,’ he told Echonetdaily.

Mr Balderstone said marijuana advocates were ‘so pissed off at their narrow little gate they’ve opened [to accessing medical marijuana], which really means you can only get cannabis if you’re nearly dead.’

He described police random drug testing as ‘a big horror… that stopped so many people coming’.

‘It’s unfair and police know it’s unfair,’ he said.

He was also disappointed that police ‘squibbed’ on the annual tug-of-peace, ‘so we had it between recreational and medical users instead’.

However he commended the cops for one thing: ‘they stayed away from the main stage and let the music go late’.

‘There were good numbers, the weather was kind and we focussed on the rally more this year.

‘And it was the first time Nimbin showcased more of its thinking. Adani and refugees were prominent, embracing the wider views of the community,’ he said.

S Sorrensen, Echonetdaily’s man on the ground, said that despite police being out in force as usual there was a positive vibe at the event.

‘There’s lots happening in the US, Canada, Paraguay and Portugal, which is a cause for some optimism’.

He added that ‘on the coat tails of food and medical use, the arguments [for recreational legalisation] are getting dragged along’.

He commended MardiGrass as ‘a great celebration of resistance, the biggest event in the rainbow region, and it’s totally human, organic and participatory.’

Read S’s complete take on MardiGrass in Thursday’s Echonetdaily.

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