The streets of Nimbin are lined with people with dreadlocks and rainbow clothing, weed leaves decorate the shop fronts, and bud smoke fills the air. On corners, in parks, and in cafes everyone’s blazing up—all of whom, the law states, are criminals. Hippies arrived in Nimbin, Australia, in the state of New South Wales, in 1973 for the Aquarius festival and never left. They bought up the butter factory, a bunch of buildings in town and set up communes, intent on settling in. Over the following decades, whilst the rest of the world played their hand at the Monopoly board of Neoliberal Capitalism, the hippies worked on forming community, chasing dreams and sharing joints.
The hub of bud in Nimbin is the Hemp Embassy, where you can get every bit of weed merchandise you can imagine —everything but the weed. Consultation on the medicinal benefits of cannabis is part of the service here and patients talk candidly about their need for relief. Here I meet Michael Balderstone, Hemp Embassy President and full-on weed enthusiast. He’s been in Nimbin for a few decades and is now one of the spiritual fathers of the town. He is succinct in his description of