Protests target of Campus Watch

Abe Gray.
Abe Gray.
The University of Otago is refusing to say whether it is attempting to prevent a protest group from consuming cannabis on campus.

Otago Norml spokesman Abe Gray, which runs ''4:20'' protests on the University Union lawn where members consume cannabis, said Campus Watch members had attempted to disband two of the protests last week.

When protesters refused to move or pass on details after they were approached by Campus Watch on Friday, police were called, Mr Gray said.

A Campus Watch member had told Mr Gray the newly aggressive stance was a result of a ''direct order'' from vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne to shut down the protests, he said.

The university did not respond to questions over whether it was attempting to shut down the protests.

Instead, director of student services David Richardson said in a statement a ''complaint was made and investigated'' over the protests.

''Further inquiries are under way, with the police and the proctor involved,'' Mr Richardson said.

Referring to participation in the protest, he said students thought to be in breach of the university's code of conduct or smoke-free policy would be dealt with by the proctor.

Any issues related to non-students would be a police matter.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

Seige mentality

If people want to smoke a mind altering substance that's their prerogative - as long as it affects no-one else. That seems fair, doesn't it?

But the Majority have long decided that public smoking is a health risk and no longer socially acceptable. So, regardless of what is being smoked, why shouldn't Campus Watch move along people who have no regard for the health of others? This is the issue, it's that simple. Of course, if people prefer to go with their impression, or interpretation of the "real" reason behind this move that's also their prerogative.

No-one cares about a political struggle to legalise drugs, because it's a one horse issue that benefits a minority of people. It's an issue of self-interest and selfishness. When it does spill out into the public domain it's inevitably entwined with crime, social deprivation and worse. You can intellectualise and harrumph in foggy indignation about that if you want. Many of the social and political issues the ALCP uses to try and broaden its acceptance are covered by other parties, so we're back to ALCP being about a single topic. As as society, we have to decide what are the important problems to put our energies into solving, and in the scheme of things, an individual's right to get high is trumped by dealing with poverty, finding jobs and being able to afford a roof over your head.

Do I really have to point out that making an stand for "cognitive liberty" behind the skirts of the University's fence-line is no stand at all? An issue has no relevance if it cannot resonate with the wider community. How will you change anything? If you believe that there is a seachange of public opinion out there in support of your issue, then at least have the intellectual honesty to get out there.

Political will for change Is self-evident

While there is a tautology, illegal becuase it is immoral, immoral becuase it is illegal, nonetheless the presence of cannabis (natural) is endemic. It is everywhere. Across all demographics.

NZ passed the correct law to embrace and D-classify cannabis management back in 2008. And matters relating to the stymied 'politics' that lead to the subsequent dysfunctional response from Messrs Dunne et al was explored objectively by fellows of the Dunedin Law Faculty at a crucial and important symposium on cannabis law hosted by none other than the very folk being vilified here.

University life is about exploring the edges of reason, and this is one such case. The response by campus watch and proctors is the modern equivalent of book burning. Naysayers and in particular politicians with the ostrich syndrome have a big lesson coming. There is no political will for continued prohibition of cannabis, exemplified by a Campbell Live poll of 16,000 Kiwi folk, 84% desire a seachange in our drug policy. It it isn't half about time. To continue to pretend 16% have 'the answer' is about as anal as public policy gets. It is just a shame we havent got the collective nouse in the house to make it so.  So vote. And insist that any poll includes all the parties standing on the hustings this election.

The true measure of our collective will cannot be embraced while the ALCP [Cannabis Party] is excluded 'from the polls', as if the issue didnt exist. Eighty four percent support is a game changer. Such overdue reform may yet be NZ's most profound global peace initiative since that other great campus initiative, "Nuke Free."  I say "Cognitive Liberty" - Democracy depends on it. Anything else is tyranny of the minority.

No smoking

The university has institued a No Smoking policy on campus, which is about protecting the rigts and health of the majority  who choses not to smoke, and do not wish to suffer the effects of second-hand smoke. So it's about the health issue of  smoking, not what you're smoking.

But with regard to the "what"  issue. Perhaps pot should be legalised. Then it can be taxed and the money used to offset the real and social costs to the community that it harms.

Defense de fumer

My impression is that Uni is not so much cracking down on protest as trying to implement a general smoking ban. Why don't you use non-combusting cannabis? NORML as a lobby group could be more informative about contemporary cannabis, too. It would be a public service if they let us know whether black market sourced product is ever 'spiked', if there is any quality control of illicit product. Would you, for example, have your stash analysed at the NPC, no names, no pack drill? For its part, Campus Watch really should explain itself.

Freedom of speech

One would believe that a university would be a safe environment to engage in what’s clearly a political issue for our time and with Mr Gray being the deputy leader of the ALCP it should be plainly obvious to all concerned that he’s indeed qualified to lead a political protest on this matter, not to mention politically relevant being an election year and with the unrest over the rise of synthetic drug trade in our society, that some feel is directly attributable to the prohibition of Herbal Cannabis.
I applaud Mr Gray for being steadfast and true to his political views to which he’s devoted a large chunk of his life, there seems little or no need for Police involvement as long as the protests are peaceful and without incident, given that the Police openly lobby an anti-Cannabis stance via all forms of media down to farming field days.
We supposedly live in a democratic society that statistically has over 56% of its population admit to having used Cannabis at some time and around 16% regular users, this is not a fringe issue by any means so stifling a debate that has 72% support for a law change according to resent TV3 polls seems irresponsible.

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