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Byron Shire
October 4, 2022

Nimbin MardiGrass celebrates 30 years of action on cannabis law reform

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Nimbin MardiGrass. Photo Jeff Dawson

It’s a celebration, it’s a protest, it’s a community awareness-raising event – it’s the Nimbin MardiGrass and it is celebrating 30 years of success in changing attitudes to cannabis on the 16 to 18 September. 

Normally it takes place on the first weekend in May, but owing to the devastating floods in the region it was postponed this year to September as a celebration of spring planting.

‘It’s usually a harvest festival,’ said Michael Balderstone, president of the MOB, the Mardigrass Organising Body. ‘But a lot of the harvest was flooded this year, so a Spring planting ceremony seems appropriate.’

There will be movies, a photo exhibition and Yarndi Yarns to share old memories of past MardiGrass’s, as well as all the usual favourite events in Plantem Park, Sativa Stadium and Indica Arena.

Nimbin MardiGrass art.

Bong Throw and Yell

Major highlights include the Great Green Cabaret on Friday evening, the Kombi Konvoy and Hemp Olympix on Saturday and Big Protest Rally Sunday. Pot Art and Pot Poetry is on again as well as a new event, the MMMA, MardiGrass Marijuana Music Awards.

The Hemp Olympix now famous events, the Bong Throw and Yell, Growers Iron Person Event and Joint Rolling competitions will be monitored this year by Belgium officials after world records were broken last year but drug testing not completed beforehand in the appropriate way. The records were not accepted.

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


The Hemposium is a packed program of speakers on all things cannabis related spread over four stages on both days. An extraordinary collection of Aussie weed experts. 

Michael Pettersson the young ACT Labor politician who initiated the laws that allow Canberrians to grow two plants and who is now trying to decriminalise personal amounts of all drugs there, is coming to MardiGrass for the first time. As is solicitor Bernie Bradley, the Legalise Cannabis candidate that gave Pauline a run for her money in Qld in the recent Federal election.

MardiGrass 2015. Photo Jeff Dawson.

Drug-free drivers needed

There is also a concerted effort to help people get to and from MardiGrass without losing their licence.

‘Drug free drivers are much sought after around Nimbin at MardiGrass time and quite a large community network is pulling together this year to help each other out. The answer to a lot of problems is community and it’s something Nimbin is good at. And there’s nothing like a war to pull a community together!’ said Mr Balderstone.

‘This is an important protest weekend. The drug war just plods on relentlessly even though most everyone agrees drug use is a health issue. How are we going to stop it? How do we initiate the changes we all know are really inevitable?

Nimbin MardiGrass. Photo Jeff Dawson

‘The two core issues we are protesting about, is to be allowed to grow our own medicine instead of having to buy it expensively from big corporations via a doctor.

‘And the drug driving rules must change to an impairment test. It’s appalling that medical cannabis users are losing their licences just for having a tiny old residue of cannabis in their saliva which is not affecting their driving ability at all. We need the police to support us in lobbying to reintroduce sobriety tests instead, like other countries are using. These laws are already in place for them to use I believe.’

The full program is on nimbinmardigrass.com and volunteers have begun arriving to set up the event. Volunteers can register on the website as can DFD’s, drug free drivers who can be part of the Ubud or Duber networks. Or you can register at the HEMP Embassy in Nimbin or on Facebook at Mardi grass rideshare.

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