Museum creator Michael Balderstone (second from left) with Nimbin Museum and Hemp Bar volunteers.
Museum creator Michael Balderstone (second from left) with Nimbin Museum and Hemp Bar volunteers.

Police to close Mardi Grass museum

POLICE are planning to shut down Nimbin's Museum and Hemp Bar for 72 hours during this weekend's Mardi Grass Festival.

Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said police visited him yesterday to say they had requested a magistrate close the premises using the Restricted Premises Act of 1943.

Under the act, police may request the closure of a premises where they have 'reasonable grounds for suspecting' it is being used for the supply of drugs, or drugs are kept on the premises.

"This has come as a complete surprise to me," Mr Balderstone said.

"It's going to upset a lot of people who see the museum as a community space. Since the youth club was closed down two years ago it has become the de facto youth centre."

Mr Balderstone described the move by police as 'provocative' and questioned its timing in the lead-up to Mardi Grass, when up to 15,000 people are expected to descend on the town.

"I am urging the police to rethink this decision as it will only cause chaos, anger and resentment. They're throwing the baby out with the bath water. These are the two biggest tourist attractions in Nimbin. What we need is visible policing and harm minimisation during Mardi Grass."

Mr Balderstone said he would be challenging the order in court on Friday.

He said it was 'ludicrous' the main organiser of the festival would have to be in court as events were getting under way.

Police were unable to comment on why the action had been taken because the matter was before the court.

Volunteers at the Museum Cafe were upset by the news they would be closed down for the biggest weekend of the year.

Phil Bayles said police should shut the pub instead.

"If they want to stop trouble then they should ban alcohol for the weekend," he said.

Rodney Wood described his role within the museum as 'more like a councillor'.

"This place nurtures youth. Anyone who comes here is never short of a dollar or a hug," he said.


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