BOOK AN UBUD DRIVER: With another strong police presence expected this weekend, Mardigrass have launched its new service Ubud - which allows passengers to book a drug free driver to and from the renowned protest.
BOOK AN UBUD DRIVER: With another strong police presence expected this weekend, Mardigrass have launched its new service Ubud - which allows passengers to book a drug free driver to and from the renowned protest. Marc Stapelberg

WANTED: Drug free drivers for MardiGrass

NIMBIN Mardigrass is calling for drug free drivers to join its new Duber-Ubud service to help attendees safely travel to and from the renowned cannabis law reform rally and celebration.

Created in response to the strong police presence expected this year, the informal service allows local and visiting passengers to book drug free drivers during the event, via the Mardigrass website. Alternatively drivers and passengers can connect to organise lifts via the Facebook page Nimbin Mardi grass rideshare.

The 26th annual Mardigrass kicks off tomorrow and organising committee president Michael Balderstone has high hopes the Duber-Ubud service will help to boost event numbers.

"Last year Mardigrass numbers were down a lot, only because of road side drug testing," Mr Balderstone said.

"So this year we've made a big effort to show people alternative ways to get here."

However, with cannabis law reform more firmly on the political agenda than ever before, Mr Balderstone still expects more protesters at this years' rally.

He said the reaction to Ubud had been excellent, with at least 20 drivers reaching out so far to offer their services.

"Lots of people support Mardigrass and have put themselves forward as a driver... but we do need more drivers," he said.

"I'm not sure how the rates will work, but some locals are offering it for free.

"I'd love to see it become a permanent service for the region."

He said the village was prepared for a "few dramas" and increased police presence, but hoped the police would be reasonable and the protests for cannabis reforms would remain peaceful.

"Ubud is all about safety, harm minimisation and the community looking after each other in this war on cannabis with RDT their latest weapon against us," he said.

"RDTs are a grossly unfair approach to road safety.

"The saliva test simply finds "traces" of THC in saliva, rather than testing for actual driver impairment.

"This means that not just hours, but days or even weeks, after consuming cannabis, traces of THC could be discovered in your saliva."

He said many people in Nimbin had now given up driving all together because the town was a "target" for RDTs.

"The effect on our community has been massive," he said.

"A lot of long-term medical cannabis users live in our area and have moved here over the years to be around sympathetic people."

For the first time the HEMP Party is on the Labor how to vote card and yet "how can we introduce medicinal cannabis if you can't drive under the influence?"

Mr Balderstone said it was an issue that urgently needed to be addressed in light of new laws enforced from May 1 which will lead to an on-the-spot three month loss of licence for those caught driving with merely the presence of cannabis in their system.

Richmond Police District Chief Inspector Nicole Bruce said police expected all drivers to be unimpaired while travelling to and from the 2019 Nimbin Mardigrass.

"As long as all road users abide by the law, we will be satisfied," Chief Insp Bruce said.

Register for the MardiGrass Duber-UBud Service by emailing: nimbinmardigrass@hempembassy.net or for driver's contact details head to http://nimbinmardigrass.com/duber-ubud/ or http://nimbinmardigrass.com/transport/

Nimbin Mardigrass runs from May 3 -5. For details visit nimbinmardigrass.com.