Nimbin Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone (front right) enjoys a herbal cigarette and a drink as a mock-up sign bearing Cr Neil Marks’ proposed anti-drugs billboard message is displayed by (from left) Starshine and Bib, both volunteers at the embassy, and Smoulder, a long-time Nimbin resident.
Nimbin Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone (front right) enjoys a herbal cigarette and a drink as a mock-up sign bearing Cr Neil Marks’ proposed anti-drugs billboard message is displayed by (from left) Starshine and Bib, both volunteers at the embassy, and Smoulder, a long-time Nimbin resident. Jacklyn Wagner

Signs labelled a dopey idea

“LISMORE City Council supports a drug-free Nimbin, your support would be appreciated.”

That’s the message Lismore Councillor Neil Marks wants to put on billboards at the southern and northern entrances to the village renowned the world over for its liberal attitude towards marijuana.

However, bemusement was the response from Nimbin locals yesterday.

“Does that mean we can’t drink alcohol or coffee?” asked Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone.

Cr Marks will propose the erection of the two billboards at Tuesday’s Lismore City Council meeting.

“Personally, I like Neil Marks, but this is extraordinary,” Mr Balderstone said.

“I look forward to seeing the graffiti.

“This is like the final assault on Afghanistan.

“Does this mean we can look forward to more police raids?”

Cr Marks did not return calls from The Northern Star yesterday, but in the council papers he argues the billboards would support Nimbin’s push towards a healthy lifestyle, following the council’s decision to build a skate park in the village to replace the controversial steel facility.

“This measure would show that the council supports the community and its push towards a healthy lifestyle and is aimed at people who would come to Nimbin with the sole purpose of purchasing illegal drugs,” he wrote.

However, Nimbin Chamber of Commerce president Peter Wise was surprised by the councillor’s move.

“The council should first consult with the Nimbin community on putting up signage of that nature,” he said.

Nimbin, which stages the popular Mardi Grass drug reform rally every year, was last month named one of the top 10 hippie travel destinations in the world on the Toptenz website.

“People come here for the alternative lifestyle. They realise the hippies got it right,” Mr Balderstone said.

A recent study commissioned by the Nimbin Visitor Information Centre found 41 per cent of tourists visited the village because of its reputation and 33 per cent for its alternative lifestyle.

Mr Balderstone said it was impossible to estimate the value of the drug economy to Nimbin, which nationally is estimated to be worth $8 billion.

“The drug issue is huge, but it’s not just Nimbin, it’s the whole North Coast,” he said.


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