Cannabis protest ignored by police
by Chris Morris (Otago Daily Times, May 5, 2003)
Police did nothing to stop protesters smoking cannabis in the foyer of the Dunedin Central Police station on Saturday.
About 20 people, led by protest organiser Duncan Eddy, walked into the police station at 2:45pm smoking cannabis joints as part of Dunedin's J-Day - "joint day" - protest against cannabis laws.
They were met by Senior Sergeant Bruce Ross, who appeared briefly behind the reception desk and refused a statement offered by Mr. Eddy.
Snr. Sgt. Ross then left the foyer and the protesters returned to the steps outside the police station, where another 50 protesters were gathered also smoking cannabis.
Earlier, about 70 protesters had marched from the Octagon to the police station carrying a large fake joint, at the conclusion of the 4th annual J-Day rally in the Octagon.
About 300 people attended the rally between midday and 2:30pm to protest against the cannabis laws, Mr. Eddy said.
"We have just had a few hundred people sitting here and smoking cannabis in the grand tradition of civil disobedience. There's been a really good feeling here."
One Dunedin mother (38), who declined to be named, brought her 20-month-old daughter with her to the protest.
"This is her third J-Day. She has been coming here since she was in utero." The woman said she wanted to protest "repressive and oppressive" cannabis laws.
"You make rules in society to minimise harm. The harm of arresting people for using marijuana is so much worse than the harm of using it," she said.
Another man, a dentist, who also declined to be named, suggested relaxed marijuana laws could help save power.
"We could save power by growing our cannabis plants outside, instead of using expensive hydroponic units inside," he said.
Mr. Eddy said the rally and protest aimed to get police involved in the debate on cannabis law reform.
"I think a lot of police realise cannabis laws need to be changed. We want the police to get involved in the debate and tell us what they think about the law," he said.
However, Snr. Sgt. Ross said he was not interested in debating cannabis law reform with protesters and ignoring them was the best way to deal with the situation at the time.
"If they want to change the law there are right ways to go about it, and that's to see their MP."
Image coming soon
Protesters light up outside the Dunedin Central Police Station on Saturday to protest against cannabis laws.
Protesters inside the Dunedin Central Police Station, J Day 2003