Nimbin Coffeeshops Trial - Draft Plan.

We would need agreement from two key stakeholders:
Nimbin Chamber of Commerce
Nimbin Community Development Association

Other possible stakeholders:
It would be helpful to know they would not object to the trial even if they felt they could not support it.
Nimbin Health & Welfare Council
Nimbin Ratepayers & Progress Association 
Nimbin HEMP Embassy
Nimbin Neighborhood Association
Cullen St shopkeepers
Nimbin A & I Society

Trial would be for 18 months, with 3-5 Coffeeshops,
using the Amsterdam style and system of "Hashcoffeeshop" operation.
 
The trial would be implemented as a local 'Drug Action Plan' and part of a 'Drugs and Community Action Strategy' through the Premiers Office, New South Wales Government.

A committee made up of the following representatives, if they want to would oversee it:
Nimbin Chamber of Commerce, Nimbin Health & Welfare Council, Nimbin Ratepayers & Progress Assn., Nimbin Neighborhood Association, Nimbin Community Development Association, Nimbin HEMP Embassy, Cullen St. shopkeepers, Coffeeshops Owner/Operators, Nimbin Police and/or other appropriate Police personnel with appropriate liaison officers from Premiers Office New South Wales.

I suspect the best way to structure the committee would be:
6 voting members, 3 from Nimbin Chamber of Commerce and 3 from Nimbin Community Development Association. The committee would also have non-voting members who would advise the local community members. They could include representatives from the Police Service, Northern Rivers Health Services, Premiers Department New South Wales Government and others as are seen appropriate at the time and might include other local community groups. Advice from the Police would be helpful in 'vetting' an individual's suitability to be involved with the Coffeeshop Trial.

This committee could have the power to issue and revoke the Coffeeshops permit, possibly requiring a 2/3-majority decision. It would meet monthly to monitor the trial. It would be helpful if this committee had access to the statistics to be used to evaluate the trial. This would let the committee monitor trends while the trial was happening.

There would be a 10% levy on cannabis product sales from the Coffeeshops. I would like to see this money directed in 2 directions. To promote community-based treatment, I would channel funds to the SHARE project. To prevent drug related problems in our young people, I would use funds to 'buy' or subsidize scholarships, apprenticeships, 'in job' training and other appropriate activities for young people from the Nimbin district.

There would need there to be unanimous agreement between the key stakeholders for the trial to begin, stop during the 18-month trial period or proceed past that time.

We could monitor during the trial and evaluate the impact of the trial on:
Street crime rates.
Local burglary rates.
Heroin Overdose rates.
NSEP statistics & inappropriate disposal rates.
Youth enrolments at Nimbin Central School.
Youth Austudy enrolments for Nimbin district.

Coffeeshop rules could include:
No admittance unless18 years or older. Facility would include a smoke-free room and/or outside area for minors and children.
Small amounts of cannabis products only, 7-10gm. Maximum Coffeeshop "stash" 1kg.
10% levy on cannabis sales for the Community Welfare Fund
No sale or use of "hard drugs". 
No external advertising of products. 
No significant and proven complaints about noise or congregation around the establishment.
Availability of heath information on cannabis use, harm reduction and cessation.
Facility for summary closure for breach of regulations.

Other Issues:
1. Selection of café proprietors.
Coffeeshops would be licienced to an individual operator (owner/manager) and the location. An individual would not be allowed to transfer his licence to another Coffeeshop nor would a Coffeeshop be able to change its operator (owner/manager) without approval of the committee. A 2/3 majority of the project's management committee would be needed for either of these two things to occur. Local involvement in the management committee is important to allow us to monitor the situation and ensure Coffeeshops adhere to the regulations that will be stipulated by their licence. A 2/3 majority of the management committee can revoke a Coffeeshop operator's licience at any time.

2. 'Bush buds' vs 'Hydro', Driving, Cookies and Legal Issues. 
Coffeeshops would carry appropriate health information about cannabis use. Safety and driving would be included in this advice, as would advice about cookie consumption and any other health issues considered appropriate.
Because the consumption and sale of cannabis remains illegal, I believe the duty of care, beyond those of general liability, remains with the consumer. Remember there will be no change in the legal status of cannabis, only the direction of the police to ignore small sales of cannabis from an approved outlet.
Market forces will determine the price and quality of cannabis products. I suspect the price of 'bush buds' would be around $150/30gm while more exotic or potent cannabis products might sell for $150-300/30gm. Cannabis products tend to increase in price with potency.

3. Supply of cannabis for Coffeeshops 
The Dutch work on a basis of 'don't ask, don't tell.' What that means is it is accepted that Coffeeshops are quite capable of organising a steady supply of cannabis with or without the Police 'turning a blind eye.' In Nimbin, the issue of supplying enough cannabis is not really a problem. The supply of cannabis occurs at a 'cottage industry' level without organised crime links. I suspect there are enough local growers in the Nimbin area to maintain a steady supply of quality cannabis products. After all that's why many people visit Nimbin now! Because cannabis is readily available in Nimbin already, I would not expect to see much of a rise in demand. Economic models suggest that a 5-10% increase in demand is a more than generous estimate.

4. Security
I do not believe there would be problems with security in Coffeeshops. This did not seem to be a problem in Amsterdam, a very large city, when I discussed this issue with Coffeeshop owners/operators there. In general cannabis users are a peaceful bunch, although mixing it with alcohol can fuel aggression. I would expect Coffeeshops to be aware of these issues as part of their 'server responsibility'.


Dr David Helliwell
Nimbin July 2000