Fears Nimbin is going to the dogs

NIMBIN business owners say regular police drug sniffer dog raids in the town are killing their businesses and they are responding with a protest rally today.

After the rally, organisers plan to march on the town’s police station.

Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said tourists were staying away from the hippy town in droves, leaving many businesses struggling.

He blamed it on what he called ‘heavy-handed policing’, with regular sniffer dog raids and foot patrols by police wearing bullet-proof vests and Taser guns.

“The whole concept of community policing in Nimbin seems to have been completely abandoned,” he complained.

“The Hemp Embassy and the Justice Action Group of Nimbin are co-ordinating this action, as both feel strongly about the new campaign to rid the village of its favourite herb.

“This village could easily manage a pot trading area, or market place, where transactions of small amounts of cannabis could happen in a safe and sane environment. Health advice and information could be also made available in such a place.”

However, Richmond Local Area Command duty officer Inspector Gary Cowen was unapologetic, saying that Nimbin was a known area where illicit drugs were used and sold.

“The drug detection dog is a tool used by police to stamp out the use and supply of illicit drugs everywhere, and Nimbin is no different to anywhere in the State in that regard,” he said.

Concerned community members have organised a rally and protest march today at midday, where a petition will be formulated for submission to the NSW Council of Civil Liberties and the NSW Ombudsman, which will be also presented to the Nimbin police.

Mr Balderstone said organisers were hoping for a big crowd to‘reclaim’ their town.

“Just asking these police patrol questions can get a hostile reaction and possibly a ‘move-on’ order that makes you leave your own town,” he said. “Aren’t police are supposed to be working for the community?”

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