Australia’s failed war on drugs is on shameful display as 29 young men in the northern New South Wales town of Nimbin have been arrested for selling cannabis.
7 of them have already been handed jail sentences and another 13 have been given suspended sentences.
Locals and residents of the broader community are outraged and united in their opinion that these guys are not criminals and the war on drugs has got it wrong again.
Nimbin has long been a community famous for alternative lifestyle and cannabis culture. With the recent surge in demand for medical cannabis, the small town has become a place to source medicine for many Australians living in northern New South Wales and South East Queensland.
According to local residents we interviewed, the boys arrested filled the growing demand for medical cannabis, which made a huge impact on patients and the community as desperate patients keep making trips to Nimbin to find out more about how they can access medical cannabis.
Australians see it on TV that medicinal cannabis is now legal and see reports from Israel and Canada and many other countries about the huge range of conditions that medical cannabis may be effective for and they want it.
91% of Australians want to see medical cannabis legal, however, it is only available for terminally ill patients, and even for them, it is close to impossible to source it legally.
As as a matter of fact, we just reported earlier this week that the government seems to go as far as allegedly breaking the law to keep the life-saving drug away even from the terminally ill.
The government keeps saying to the media that patients have access to medical cannabis, however, the reality of the everyday Aussie patient is drastically different.
Less than 150 patients have gained legal access to medical cannabis to date and most of them are not on herbal medicine.
In this environment, patients become desperate and as they hear about the facts that cannabis is the safest therapeutic substance known to humans, they are turning to the black market in masses.
The Lane Boys catered for this demand with a service that offered outdoor, organically grown cannabis as an option and patients could source cannabis that they had a very good chance of being what they were told it was.
The hydroponic cannabis, grown indoor for the black market often gets treated with a range of insecticides and fungicides as well as a lot of synthetic fertilizers.
The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has expressed worries about patients getting cannabis from the black market, however, the police seem to be determined to wipe out the only organic cannabis source in the country that was somewhat available to the public.
“The TGA is very concerned about patients deciding to use black market products. Testing of these products has revealed in the past that they are not always as advertised and can contain dangerous levels of contaminants and other substances.”
The police installed secret video cameras in the Paradise Lane, where the local youth has been hanging out for over a decade since the youth club stop operating.
29 local men were charged as a result of the operation, titled Strike Force Cappa and 7 of them have received prison sentences of up to a year.
“They got some kind of backhand blow by the court system because all the barristers gave the guys advice if you plead guilty, you get a suspended sentence… but in fact, probably ten or a dozen of them going to get jail sentences.”
Nimbin Hemp Embassy President, Michael Balderstone said during our interview.
The Lane Boys were banned from the Nimbin community, even the ones that have not been jailed are not part of the community anymore.
Local residents say their absence is felt across the town as they provided security to the town and had a reputation for fairness, generosity, and compassion.
The boys jailed and banned out of town created a vacuum, that locals noticed to be filled with dangerous drugs and patients traveling to Nimbin to source medical cannabis these days are significantly more likely to run into questionable quality cannabis.
Heroin overdoses have become the reality of this small tight community since the Lane Boys are out. Every single resident out of the two dozen or so people we spoke to has been deeply disturbed and even outraged by how the law was applied in this case.
The cost of the failed war on drugs in Australia keeps piling up, devastating lives, families and as we see in this case, entire communities.
This is all happening in contrast to the fact that the scientific world and all sides of politics now agree that cannabis is the safest and one of the most effective therapeutic substance.
Canada will be making cannabis available to everyone over 18 from 1 July 2018, while we are busy down here packing people into prison on cannabis charges.