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Everything You Need To Know About "MardiGrass", The Huge Weed Festival That's Happening This Weekend

There are very high hopes for the event this year.

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MardiGrass is an annual event held in the tiny Australian town of Nimbin, in northern New South Wales.

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Nimbin is about 70km west of the celebrity-filled town of Byron Bay, which you may know as the home to Aussie celebs like Chris Hemsworth.

Nimbin itself is a very small town – its population is under 500 people – but its also known as Australia's cannabis hub.

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This all started in 1993, when a bunch of Nimbin locals came together and protested outside of the police station, throwing eggs at the station in response to thousands of police raids in the area that occurred during the '80s and '90s.

A few months later, the Nimbin residents protested once more – this time much more peacefully – and formed the Hemp Embassy, intended to be a hub for all things drug law and cannabis-related.

It should be noted that cannabis is totally, 100% illegal Australia-wide. Medicinal cannabis is legal, but law reform and supply is in the early stages following a government announcement of legalisation in December 2016.

On the first weekend in May every year, pro-cannabis reform activists, locals, and tourists come together. This year will be the event's 25th anniversary.

There's a whole bunch of stuff that happens over the weekend.

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The festival is broken up into three segments: protest, education, and celebration.

On the Friday afternoon before the festival kicks off, a "Hemp Olympic Torch" with the Eternal Flame For The Victims Of Prohibition is brought into town. Then, the Bundjalung Custodians, the indigenous people of the region, perform a smoking ceremony and welcome to country.

There's a cannabis law reform rally, a parade, and usually there's a "tug o' drug war" which is a tug-of-war between local police and the public.

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However, the police have decided not to compete this year.

"It is a bit embarrassing to keep losing to the stoners!" says the MardiGrass official site.

Then, there's the Ganja Faeries.

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The Ganja Faeries choreograph a routine for a march ever year. They wear all green "in all shades [and] all styles" and are accompanied by a bunch of drummers.

Educational speakers also appear at MardiGrass.

Facebook: nimbinmardigrass

Doctor David Bearman is set to appear this year, discussing the use of cannabis in cancer patients, and Robert Laurie, a writer and lawyer will be talking about Canada's Charter of Rights to Cannabis Legalisation.

Members from the Liberal Democrats, the Sex Party, The Greens, the Justice Party, and the Hemp Party will also be speaking.

People bring their friends, their family, and their dogs.

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Oh, and then there's the bong throw – a competition to see who can throw a bong the furthest.

View this video on YouTube

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In a statement on Friday, New South Wales Police urged MardiGrass attendees to "party safely".

Richmond Area Police / Via Facebook: RichmondLAC

Police said they would be targeting illegal drug activity and anti-social behaviour.

“Illegal drug use and supply, underage drinking, alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour will all be targeted by police,” said Superintendent Greg Martin.

"There are a large number of backpackers and tourists that converge on the Nimbin area year round who are looking to experience the alternative lifestyle.

“Unfortunately there is a group of people who target these tourists and are actively engaged in the supply of prohibited drugs, including cannabis, cannabis cookies, magic mushrooms, LSD, methylamphetamine, MDMA, cocaine and heroin.

“It is a common misconception amongst those international tourists that it is legal to take illicit drugs in the Nimbin area.”

Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Brad Esposito at bradley.esposito@buzzfeed.com.

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