Gunja Queen Jaz Who at the 2012 Mardi Grass parade.
Gunja Queen Jaz Who at the 2012 Mardi Grass parade. Doug Eaton

MardiGrass gets rolling

THE Nimbin MardiGrass is "gearing up" for a big one next month, with imminent changes to the US legal landscape a shining light for the pro-cannabis activists behind the event.

Organisers are also confident the annual protest - which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2013 - has a bright future, despite a list of council requirements get longer each year.

Last year Lismore City Council threatened to shut it down because a development application had not been submitted, but organisers were granted permission to submit the DA late.

For this year's event, Hemp Embassy secretary James Moylan filed a 108-page DA, and has had "half-a-dozen" meetings with police and council staff.

MICHAEL BALDERSTONE: (MardiGrass’s cost) seems to be driven by insurance companies which I feel like having a rally against too. There’s no funding; you never get funding for a protest against the government.
MICHAEL BALDERSTONE: (MardiGrass’s cost) seems to be driven by insurance companies which I feel like having a rally against too. There’s no funding; you never get funding for a protest against the government.

"It's going swimmingly, but much like any other festival there's hoops to jump through," Mr Moylan said.

MardiGrass president Michael Balderstone estimated the non-profit event cost up to $60,000 to run.

"It seems to be driven by insurance companies which I feel like having a rally against too. There's no funding; you never get funding for a protest against the government."

"If we get flooded out we might end up owing between 20 or 30 grand."

This year the main event will be at a new venue, next to the town hall.

While in the public eye it has evolved into a spectacle of pot culture, the organisers said the event remains the foremost meeting of Australians committed to cannabis legalisation.

"It's not just to have a big party," Mr Moylan said.

Mr Moylan said Australian politicians on both sides of the fence were following the changes regarding cannabis use in the US "very closely".

Washington and Colorado states legalised recreational cannabis use last year, and medical use is legal in 18 states with 10 in the pipeline.

"It's a real boost for the energy of MardiGrass - plenty of people can see the light at the end of the tunnel."



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