Protesters gather as more than 50 face drug driving charges

PROTESTERS against saliva testing drivers gathered outside Lismore Local Court yesterday as more than 50 people faced the magistrate on drug driving charges.

Inflatable joints, large hand made banners and signs including 'swab testing is not impairment testing', 'change the law not our lives' and 'good medicine' dominated the peaceful rally a protesters heard from a number of speakers.

Nimbin Hemp Embassy President Michael Balderstone told protesters due to the alarming statistics police had gathered about drug driving, they plan on trebling the number of saliva tests in NSW next year.

Mr Balderstone said figures of one-in-six drug drivers testing positive during a recent three day blitz in Tweed Byron weren't an accurate representation of the number of drug drivers.

Hemp Party secretary Andrew Kavasilas told protesters countries that had legalised cannabis for recreational use had experienced reductions in crime and the number of domestic violence related incidents.

Mr Kavasilas said the company that made the saliva testing devices were profiting from having contracts to supply police forces around Australia with their products.

"Helping people who are suffering shouldn't be about profit, and its all about profit," he said.

Lismore solicitor Steve Bolt addressed the crowd and explained it was illegal to refuse to provide a saliva sample and people who did refuse would be charged.

Mr Bolt said current saliva testing methods did not measure impairment, only the presence of THC.

"Once they (police) have got the the evidence that you're the driver and there's THC present in your saliva then the offence is proved as far as the law is concerned," he said.

The next anti-saliva drug testing protest in Lismore is planned for early next year outside Lismore Court.



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