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May 9, 2021

Thousands of sober stoners march for drug law reform in Nimbin

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The famous Ganja Faeries brought their magic touch to Nimbin’s MardiGrass again this year. PIC: Jeff I-Didn’t-Inhale Dawson

A moat-like ring of ‘crocodiles’ (police drug testing units) around the two-street town of Nimbin wasn’t enough to deter thousands from this year’s famous MardiGrass festival and anti-prohibition march.

Nimbin HEMP Embassy President, long-time drug reform campaigner and in more recent years, some-time political candidate, Michael Balderstone, said he was surprised at the high turn-out, given a heavy police presence on streets surrounding the rainforest village.

At least 2,500 people attended the festival on Saturday but Mr Balderstone said many more came to march on Sunday, driven – sometimes literally – to protest for drug law reform thanks to a continued campaign of police roadside drug testing in NSW.

Thousands turned out to protest NSW drug laws at MardiGrass 2021 PIC: Jeff green-with-envy Dawson

Concerns over increased alcohol consumption in lieu of recreational pot-smoking

Mr Balderstone said he spent much of the weekend listening to stories of regular MardiGrass attendees who said they no longer smoked cannabis for fear of losing their drivers’ licence and had taken up drinking alcohol instead.

He said many of the claims came from tradies, who typically rely more on car transport than most other workers.

‘The consequences of what they’re doing are starting to emerge,’ Mr Balderstone said, referring to concerns around impacts of alcohol consumption such as domestic violence.

‘People don’t picked up driving on mushrooms, acid or opiates,’ he continued, questioning the agenda behind a targeted campaign against cannabis.

Nothing to see here…. police and kombis were out in force at MardiGrass 2021 PIC: Jeff something-to-mull-on Dawson

Traffic cops like ‘crocs in a moat around Nimbin’ but village police ‘cool’

While Mr Balderstone described police in charge of roadside drug-testing over the weekend as ‘totally reckless, hunting and chasing people just to catch a Kombi’, he said police presence within the festival was low-key.

The Nimbin police station had not long ago acquired a new female seargent, he said, who he thought could have been apprehensive about overseeing MardiGrass for the first time but was probably happy in the end.

‘I reckon the police in town were generally very cool,’ Mr Balderstone said.

A spokesperson for the Richmond Police District that includes Nimbin was unavailable for comment.

Marchers at this year’s MardiGrass were particularly riled by the NSW RDT campaign, HEMP Embassy President Michael Balderstone said. PIC: Jeff rollin’-rollin’-rollin’ Dawson

So many pot advocate punters, Nimbin ran out of munchies

Prior to the festival starting on Friday afternoon, Mr Balderstone had told Bay FM’s Community Newsroom he thought the intense RDT presence around the town would put people off coming.

But whereas past festivals have featured a sodden Hemp Olympics and bedraggled cannabis advocates trudging up and down the main street in the rain, this year’s punters had just a few showers to wet their appetites and the town’s hospitality venues reportedly ran out of food.

‘We underestimated the crowd,’ Mr Balderstone said, ‘we didn’t have enough food stall at the festival’.

Meanwhile, it was standing room only at the festival’s programmed talks, which Mr Balderstone said he thought were some of the best so far in MardiGrass history.

HEMP Embassy President Michael Balderstone was surprised at the high turn-out for MardiGrass 2021 PIC: Jeff a-little-buzzed Dawson

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  1. Well I guess the NSW Police Force in their wisdom (?) spent a million or so bucks surrounding Nimbin with a Ring Of Steal to try to strangle Mardi Grass? Presuming that revenue harvesting was a motivating force. But it has to be more than that. The sheer stupidity of the Drug War laws is because this is essentially using the RBT in a demographic targeting of a bunch of groups the NSW Police have traditionally mistrusted and wanted to crush – hippies, Aborigines, lefties, Greenies, environment and political activists, all statistically more likely to use cannabis than cocaine. And all these facts were simultaneously being presented in a series of extraordinary panel discussions in the Nimbin Town Hall. But the totally surreal RBT Police lockdown of Nimbin was useless. All that amazing Mardi Grass political stuff was livestreamed, and we got to see it online anyway.

  2. Had a magnificent /wonderful & safe time at Mardi Grass yesterday. I say safe as Mardi Grass always is….unlike so many other venues with thousands of people in a relatively small space. Such a gorgeous friendly crowd & of course cops on the road and for what purpose seriously ????? When we were leaving walking up to our car, we saw a unmarked car with 3 cops inside , who suddenly got out of the car and started hassling young folk about 2 cars down from us ….WHY ? We were concerned so stayed put & just watched for a while. WE WONDERED IF THIS WAS LEGAL ( you would imagine it was )but these guys do operate outside the ‘law’ often. THIS WAS A VERY UN NERVING end to a most wonderful day. It is so outrageous & hypocritical to have tormented & persecuted hippies/lefties/greenies for decades whilst ‘new’ drug law reforms (whenever they arrive) will profit only corporations. The rich & powerful will ONCE again benefit, as for decades past the marginalised & those vilified for growing a few plants or having a stash in their car, were jailed & harassed & took the heat.

  3. Longest lost war in history, there’s no such war,they’re pulling out of Afghanistan,there’s double the poppies growing there now than when the US & co arrived to pull it all up,like Vietnam, Bolivia etc there’s more Afghan heroin on the streets in the west than Asian dope,says a lot for this dud war.& all it does is send the price up so much ppl sell their souls to get the crap,even pot kids run about stealing to obtain pot,then smoke it constantly doing f all with their lives,self medicating gets out of hand.

  4. Police culture has always been alcohol induced
    ,years ago covering their beer cans with coke cans cut and sticky taped over the top also the local publican would be gifting cases of beer for receiving quick loyal service,this was all before Rbt. Now the drug of choice in the forces where drug testing is a day occurrence is ice. Where is the justice when thc can be detected 3 days after the event when there is no sign of impairment, Rbt for cannabis is unjust and discriminating, get a beer up ya

  5. In my previous work as a safety officer on construction work I carried out drug testing. I spoke confidentially to a number of young guys who told me that on a Friday or Saturday night they used to enjoy a smoke of cannabis. When they were working on jobs with random drug testing they substituted cannabis for ice FFS! Great outcome pollies, well done.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with the drug testing. But only if it tests impairment, not history.


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