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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nimbin, New South Wales

Tucked away in the hills 30 kms from Lismore is the tiny village of Nimbin, known as Australia's most famous hippie destination and alternative lifestyle capital. Although the cultivation, selling and possession of marjuana is illegal in Australia, in Nimbin cannabis has been part of everyday life for years.

People buy, sell and consume locally grown cannabis on the streets, in cafes and laneways. If you want to experience something different, come to Nimbin on the first weekend in May when they hold their MardiGrass Festival. From the organisers of the festival comes this proclomation:

Proclomation - all self recognised Knights Hemplar and Dharma Farmers are called on a Religious Crusade to Nimbin, home of the Church of the Holy Smoke, to all meet there on the first weekend in May in the year Seventeen of our MardiGrass to participate in all the Sacred Ceremonies of the Holy Smoke and Smoke the Pipes of Peace.

MardiGrass activities include the Nimbin Cannabis Cup, the Hemp Olympix, the bong Throw and Yell, Joint Rolling, and the Grower's Iron Person Cup where runners must first carry a 20 kilo sack of fertilizer, then a bucket of water and finally "the crop" as a tribute to the difficulties faced by marijuana growers in the hills.

But things are slowly changing. On the 1st April 2008 more than 50 officers from the Richmond, Coffs-Clarence and Tweed Byron commands as well as the dog squad and the riot and public order squad from Sydney, descended on Nimbin with search warrants. Eight people were arrested and police seized 4 kilos of cannabis and cannabis cookies. Lease-holders of the Nimbin Museum and the Hemp Bar were ordered to close. The Museum lease-holders just walked away and were quickly replaced with new ones and re-opened fairly quickly but the Hemp Bar remained closed for eight months and re-opened in January 2009.

This year's MardiGrass Festival attracted huge numbers of tourists and locals to this beautiful area. Sniffer dogs and 4 mounted police made their presence felt and there were 150 drug seizures. Although some visitors came to buy marijuana, the majority came to enjoy the art, music and the uniqueness of the colourful festival. People were handing out petitions calling for the drug laws to be changed and marijuana to be legalised.

The 'New Age' people say police are going over the top with their crusade to clean up the town and continue to harrass them for no reason.
The 'Old School' folk say that the police haven't gone nearly far enough.