When I tell people I’m from Nimbin,
they mostly will associate that with weed.
You’re the little hippy kid, drug dealer, junkie.
There was always the bong room.
-The whacky tabaccy.
– Full of dope, no shame.
People in Nimbin want to be acknowledged not just for being a place where you can score a joint.
It’ll probably take a while to take that name off, I reckon.
I came to Nimbin in 2012 as an 18-year-old.
Back then, you could buy a hash cookie for ten bucks at a store.
Nowadays I’ve heard you’d be hard pressed to score a joint without a fear of being arrested or ripped off
So I’m headed into Nimbin for their biggest annual festival to find out
what happened to the undisputed weed capital of the country.
-How are you doing?
Are you ready for the magic of MardiGrass?
Here is Sativa stadium where we do the HEMP Olympics.
-What’s going on there?
-We educate people on how to throw a bong away.”
-Fuck the Government!
-Puff Puff Pass!
MardiGrass started after one year of really rabid helicopter raids, you know
army uniforms coming down ropes, terrifying hippie communities.
But a big part of Mardi Grass, I think is that uniting of
all of us cause we’re such outsiders and criminals and brings us together.
How’s the police presence been at the festival this year?
Friday night they were heavy.
It’s completely different to how it started off.
There used to be one cop in Nimbin, and no dramas.
So back in those days it was just cool, it was no big deal.
As Nimbin’s grown, there’s more and more police in it.
It’s an endless game of cops and robbers.
Many in Nimbin say the culture of the town changed when in 2016 police began targeting this laneway.
That was a huge thing for Nimbin, you know, that was
the unofficial marketplace for cannabis for thirty years.
Choose your weed, here’s a few bags and here’s scales, it’s a fair deal.
Over six months police secretly recorded the activity of drug dealers.
More than 40 people were charged
a group that became known as the Lane Boys.
They don’t worry about tobacco which is dicky.
They don’t worry about all the chemicals that are killing us.
These boys don’t hurt anybody, they’re healers.
Sack the cops and free the boys.
It’s just like a little gang, gangster type situation I think.
The biggest disappointment I see with the Laneway Boys is that some people compare them as heroes.
Maybe it’s just like old Ned Kelly.
But when you look into things, they’re not good.
They’re just illegal activities.
The community had an affinity with what were known as the laneway boys.
Local people sort of, selling marijuana and perhaps
having local people doing that kept out some other harder drugs or other outside influence.
Most of those charged in the operation were given suspended sentences
and banned from hanging out together.
It forced some of them out of the town they grew up in.
Until now none of the Lane boys have ever spoken publicly.
Well the first time I heard Lane boy I think was in an article in the paper
and then, yeah people started to run with it.
-This is the lane?
-Yeah this is it.
It’s definitely a little bit more quiet than it once was,
but I spent a lot of time here as a youngin.
I only ever dealt marijuana.
I mean it was very, extremely normalised.
So it’s like, you grow up out west and your Dad’s a sheep shearer, you’ll probably end up shearing sheep one day.
A large portion get dragged into this sort of scenario.
You’re more numb to the, to the seriousness of it
Did you make much money?
Can’t answer that one.
I don’t want, yeah…
They didn’t make any attempt to cover it up or whatever, just with the real expensive joggers.
The designer shorts,
I’ve only ever had cheap shorts but expensive jeans maybe.
A lot of us grew up with a lot of experiences and a lot of love.
But little in the material side of things.
So when that becomes a possibility, then of course that’s what people kind of do.
Reuben wouldn’t of had, a childhood that a lot of other Australian young boys had.
Okay, so I’m Paris and I’m Reuben’s mother.
Reuben was two when the first Mardi Grass, so that’s 28 years.
I’ve been involved actively in cannabis law reform and Reuben’s been growing up during that time.
I did speak to Reuben about it, you know I was like well it can endanger your future.
Maybe they weren’t paranoid enough because they’d grown up
where it had been very open and people didn’t get into trouble.
If you’ve brought up your children to be politically active, if you don’t like a law.
What would happen now if a tourist came to town to score in that lane?
Oh they’d probably be pretty disappointed.
You can feel the energy’s gone there and so that’s a little bit sad in a way but I mean that’s just what it is.
Are you ready police force?
Are you ready polite force?
Each year you have the tug of war between residents and the police.
Who do you think’s winning the metaphorical tug of war?
We can’t lose, we live here.
We’re not going away and we’re not going to stop smoking pot.
Nimbin’s all about change, if we don’t have somebody asking hard questions as a society we don’t evolve.
We need to have those things that agitate us, to become better.
Can Nimbin still truly be considered the weed capital of Australia?
It’ll probably take a while to shake that name off I reckon.
No, totally proud you know, I couldn’t think of anything better to celebrate.
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