|Photo: News 3|
|New Zealand cannabis protesters targeted Wellington Central police station on Thursday|
Wellington, New Zealand police will decide Friday whether to charge cannabis legalization activists who pushed a shopping cart full of burning marijuana into the central police station foyer.
Officers will study CCTV footage showing the shopping cart loaded with smoking weed being pushed into the central police station at the height of a legalization protest, reports 3 News.
The protest, part of the Armistice Tour, a nationwide push for cannabis law reform, began Thursday morning with more than 100 people gathering on Parliament’s front lawn to promote the benefits of marijuana over legal substances like alcohol and tobacco.
The protesters gathered outside the Wellington police station about 6 p.m., when the “smoke bomb” was pushed into the foyer, according to Julian Crawford, an activist and candidate with the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.
The shopping cart had plastic cannabis leaves on top, with real marijuana burning underneath, Crawford said.
Police seized the shopping cart and escorted the protesters outside the foyer, according to Crawford.
What had been a “vocal” but peaceful protest started to wind down shortly thereafter, Crawford said.
No one was arrested after the protest moved to the police station, but police will be reviewing the CCTV footage to determine whether anyone will face charges, according to Senior Sergeant Shannon Clifford of Wellington police.
The police also seized the shopping cart as an “exhibit” and were “investigating the contents” of it, Sgt. Clifford said.
“Despite the presence of police and parliamentary security guards this morning at Parliament many of those present were openly smoking cannabis cigarettes,” 3 News reported.
|Photo: goNZo Freakpower Brains Trust|
|Legendary activist Dakta Green: “You cannot keep locking us up”|
Armistice Tour spokesman Dakta Green said that cannabis was a more natural, healthier option than other drugs and did not fuel crime.
“You smoke… a joint right now, you’re not going to all of a sudden going to be overcome with the urge to go out and rob a bank or belt somebody over the head,” Green said. “There’s nothing within cannabis that turns you into a criminal.”
While some people use cannabis medicinally, Green said he wanted to see full legalization.
“You cannot overdose on cannabis,” Green said. “There are many people that have died from drinking too much alcohol, one night of heavy drinking and you can die, tobacco will almost certainly kill you… cannabis has never killed anybody.”
“You cannot keep locking us up when the science says cannabis is safer than alcohol or tobacco to the individual and to the community,” Green said.
The protesters said they were asking MPs to make peace with members of the cannabis culture.
|Photo: Akl Seshnz|
|After the Armistice March on Parliament, somebody left a message for Wellingtonians!|
The protest was well organized and there was no trouble, according to Senior Sergeant Scott Miller of Wellington police.
“Police maintained a monitoring role,” Miller said. “Police, the council and parliamentary security staff had liaised with protest leaders prior to the march.”
He said the protesters obeyed all instructions from police and security officers.
Police Minister Judith Collins claimed she did “not notice” anyone smoking cannabis outside Parliament, but said it was not her place to tell the police how to do their job.
The pollice would likely have been criticized if they had started arresting the protesters, Collins said.
Justice Minister Simon Power also claimed he did not know people were smoking marijuana on the lawn.
“I would have though that given the current legal status of cannabis that that matter may have been dealt with,” Power said.
Power said he would not be heeding the protesters’ demands for a “cannabis amnesty” during the rugby World Cup next year.
Click here for News 3’s video footage of the protest, including a great interview with Dakta Green: