'Cry “Havoc” and let slip the dogs of war?'



If only this were just a quote from Shakespeare and not the current policy of our government towards Cannabis use.

Over 12’000 Australian citizens and International visitors came to Nimbin on the 1st weekend in May to use and trade Cannabis in relative safety, and in solidarity against Cannabis prohibition laws. There were no arrests or conflicts with police as people relaxed free of prohibition oppression, some of them for the first time. In fact, the police were lauded by Mardi Grass organisers for their co-operation and groundbreaking community policing. Many new bridges were built.

One week later and the small population of Nimbin is under siege. Roads into Nimbin are blocked daily and cars and people searched, washing and garbage gone through, identification checked, plain clothes and uniformed police roam the streets. Community policing…forget it.

A child’s Birthday Party is interrupted by a police raid. 36 police officers and 2 dogs surround and close Nimbin’s café’s. All the patrons are searched (by the dog) and questioned. 3 English backpacker girls are in tears, the birthday girl watches her father being arrested. The injustice, futility and brutishness of this police raid inflames local residents frustrated with years of such treatment and betrayal, tempers fray, the mood turns ugly, last weeks bridges lay in ruins.

What did the police succeed in stopping?

Theft? Murder and violence? NO!

What the police stopped and stomped on was a leading demonstration model of responsible Cannabis use and trade. An unofficial pilot model that provided a solution to Nimbin’s overt street dealing and underage drug use and an exit strategy towards the inevitable re-legalisation of cannabis for industrial, medicinal and recreational use.

I am not promoting cannabis use, merely pointing out the futility and waste of public resources in bothering to arrest people for using it.

Living in Nimbin one cannot help but be faced daily with the negative effects of Drug abuse. People whose lives are troubled by inappropriate drug use are not helped by prohibition. Ask our health workers how often jail sentences and fines hinder their work, ostracise and demoralise their clients, break apart families, and bring about financial hardship and unemployment.

In each café 36 police arrested 1 person. Apparently they didn’t have anything else to do? Apparently arresting these people and terrorising a small village for a week was the most important crime prevention strategy they could come up with? Who cares that for years Nimbin residents have complained of violence, and vandalism on the streets at night. Smoking pot in a café is seen as the greater crime!? In Nimbin the mood is tense, years of work and consultation to find peaceful, sane solutions to current social problems occurring not only in Nimbin but in every other town in Australia are trashed and burnt.

’Cry “Havoc” and let slip the dogs of war’ is that your best answer dear government?

Paris Naday.

17/05/2001
politics@nimbinaustralia.com

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