By Dan Parker
Police turned a blind eye to protesters openly smoking cannabis in the grounds of Parliament today.
The police attitude was in marked contrast to at least one previous occasion when they made arrests.
About 120 people took part in the pro-cannabis march, and now some of them have gathered outside the Wellington Central Police Station where they have a cunning plan.
Protesters marched to Parliament to demand a law change decriminalising cannabis; it's a law they have no respect for and one they were quick to break, and all under the watchful eye of police.
“Our role is to make sure this protest is peaceful and everyone gets away on time and in good humour,” said senior sergeant Scott Miller.
Bucket bongs, joints and a pipe lit with a magnifying glass were used to smoke up; there was even a hash cake although the decorator may have eaten some first.
But no matter how much was puffed there was still no movement from police – does this signal a change in stance by police?
“Well that's not a comment I can make in relation to an overall stance by the police,” Mr Miller said.
Police say it was the Speaker Lockwood Smith's office who issued the directive to only arrest protesters if they climbed over the barrier or became violent. Those two problems never threatened to fire up.
“I think it’s an appropriate action on the police part,” says pro-cannabis campaigner Dakta Green.
Rally organiser Dakta Green says over a thousand New Zealanders are currently serving prison sentences for cannabis only offences and Mr Green is pleased that number wasn't increased today.
But inside the Beehive the mood wasn't as jovial; Police Minister Judith Collins wasn't impressed to learn what protestors had got away with.
“Well there is a moron born every moment, you know, people like that,” she said.
“I'm sure if you look at the policing act you'll see that I'm not in a position to tell police how to enforce the law but I also know that if they do enforce the law in matters like that there will be plenty of people willing to criticise them for doing so.”
That was the case in 1996 where a different approach by police ended in violence.
Although on that occasion protesters might have argued provocation.
“Anyone that smokes marijuana and thinks that they are clever is stupid, how many people out there are stupid?” John Banks said at the rally.
But the only MP who attended today's protest was there in support.
“For too long we have avoided the conversation we are having one on alcohol at the moment but when it comes to cannabis the debate has been defined by hype, by exaggeration and outright lies,” says Gareth Hughes.
Over 4,000 signatures were presented to Mr Hughes asking for the decriminalisation of cannabis; activists calling for peace on Armistice Day.
source: newshub archive