Campus arrests follow marijuana complaints (+ video)

An 18-year-old student resists police.
An 18-year-old student resists police.
Three students were arrested yesterday when Dunedin police swooped on a pro-marijuana stall on the University of Otago campus.

The men face charges ranging from resisting arrest to disorderly behaviour after supporters mobbed police attempting to arrest Abe Gray (26), the leader of the Otago chapter of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml).

Green MP Metiria Turei, who was on campus and arrived at the scene towards the end of the incident, said the police response was over the top.

Senior Sergeant Mel Aitken said police acted on information from officers at the scene that Gray was smoking marijuana at a Norml stall at a market day on the university's union lawn.

Police also received a complaint from the university proctor's office.

When Gray was arrested on a charge of obstruction under the Misuse of Drugs Act, he called out for help and about 40 people began jostling and yelling at the officers.

Gray, who gave his name to the Otago Daily Times, was later charged with resisting arrest, possessing cannabis, possessing utensils for smoking cannabis and obstruction.

A second man, a 24-year-old student, was arrested after he allegedly tried to free Gray and then ran over the roof of a police car.

He was later charged with obstruction, resisting police and disorderly behaviour.

An 18-year-old student, who allegedly refused to move after sitting down in front of a police car, was arrested and later charged with obstruction, resisting police and possessing a cannabis pipe.

All three were bailed last night to appear in the Dunedin District Court next week.

University chief operating officer John Patrick confirmed two complaints had been received by the proctor's office from members of the public about people at the stall smoking marijuana.

The complaints were referred to police.

Further comment was "inappropriate" as the matter was in police hands, he said.

Snr Sgt Aitken said if Gray had not called out to his friends, the situation would have remained "nice and calm", as the police had intended.

"Let's say we are fairly disappointed with their behaviour."

Up to seven police cars had attended the scene because of the potential for a mob situation, she said.

One witness said police officers dressed as university students had been hanging around the stall.

Ms Turei criticised police priorities.

"This was a phenomenal waste of police time. It is shocking behaviour for police just at a time when confidence in police is at an all-time low."

While she had only arrived on the scene in "the last few minutes", she said Gray's treatment by police was "serious manhandling".

"It looks very much like they are picking off young men who are running a political campaign."

Another witness said the officers had not appeared heavy-handed in their treatment of those being arrested.

 

Evidence Norml think they are above the law

Let's assume that 420 etc are "political acts of civil disobedience" a la Gandhi's Salt March. Gandhi and other civil disobedience movements blamed the ultimate legal authority for the bad laws - the British, "the man", the president/government, the political system. They didn't blame the people at the bottom of the legal ladder, except when those people got over-enthusiastic enforcing a bad law (dog attacks, baton parties, extra-judicial killings, etc).
The University have called the police for maybe half a dozen MJ cases in the past 18 months (based on the otagonorml website) - that's hardly being over-enthusiastic given the amount of dope that's historically been consumed around campus.
Look, the MJ laws are bad, okay? But don't expect other people to help you break the law when A) they don't give a darn either way and B) they'd have to break the law to allow you to break the law. And the government is no doubt happy for you to blame the university - the more you do, the more it becomes a local issue and not a national one.

Costs of marijuana use

While it is true that marijuana has negative affects on a proportion of smokers, the majority of people who smoke marijuana aren't badly affected by the problems you list. And currently, there is no system whereby those who chose to smoke it contribute directly to the costs to the health system caused by those who require help - it's paid by all taxpayers. Legalising or decriminalising marijuana would enable the government to tax it, just as they do alcohol and tobacco, and target that revenue to those specific costs.

Medical marijuana

Medical marijuana is exactly the same as the stuff on the street - our black market allows for no distinction. And it is often smoked.
If you are meaning Sativex, etc. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggestion that it isn't as good, it isn't the same. Why pay hundreds of dollars to an off-shore pharm. company, when one could just grow it in their back yard?
Yes, cannabis exerts harm on society, particularly when smoked. Wouldn't it be better dealt with by way of an excise tax, just like tobacco, and just like alcohol? Rather than banning it altogether, and having the money go into the pockets of drug-dealers and gangsters?
I smoke cannabis for a variety of reasons, and I can tell you most of the mental effects that you have listen are simply not apparent. My short-term memory is fine, my attention span remains untouched, my learning is only impaired when I am stoned, cannabis makes me more social, and hell, I find myself with more motivation than ever.
Most of the effects you see in court are a result of the prohibition of drugs, not from the drugs themselves.

Drug laws

We see the current drug laws (particularly in relation to cannabis) as what they are: Obsolete, unworkable, unjustified, and a huge breach of our human rights.
It is abundantly clear that the current criminalisation of drugs does not work. Hell, it didn't work with alcohol, did it?
So why should it work with anything else.

Costs of marijuana use

While it is true that marijuana has negative affects on a proportion of smokers, the majority of people who smoke marijuana aren't badly affected by the problems you list. And currently, there is no system whereby those who chose to smoke it contribute directly to the costs to the health system caused by those who require help - it's paid by all taxpayers. Legalising or decriminalising marijuana would enable the government to tax it, just as they do alcohol and tobacco, and target that revenue to those specific costs.

"What makes Norml think they are above the law?"

They don't think they're above the law, they are making the decision to publicly break a law they consider unjust. It's called 'civil disobedience' - and by its nature, tends to result in arrests ...

Response

Ok so perhaps I over-stepped the mark with the P comment but was just trying to make a point. I realise medicinal marijuana has positive effects but compared to what is on the street it has far less THC and is never smoked. People say marijuana only harms the person who smokes it... but what about all the tax payers money that goes towards rehab clinics, health, victim support to name a few. Biologically, marijuana affects the brain, heart, lungs, sexual organs, and depresses the immune system. The mental effects include short-term memory loss, shortened attention span, impaired learning, social withdrawal, and decreased motivation. No one in their right mind supports the legalization... the decriminalisation of possession of it could be looked at... I see the effects of drugs and alcohol in court every week... and I agree both need attention.

Campus arrests

About time too.
What makes Norml think they are above the law?

Typical banter

Weed is a curse on society? Yeah? Tell that to all the people who use it medicinally, tell that to the hemp industry, hell, tell that to the 40% of NZers who smoke the stuff.
What ills has pot caused us? I'd say there is a debatable handful.
Y'know what? No, there wouldn't be any complaints if people were arresting methamphetamine users. But methamphetamine and marijuana are roughly as similar to each-other as riding a bicycle and sticking your hand in a toaster.
(i.e. Not at all). Not all pot smokers are left wing, most of them aren't hippies. Hell, most of them aren't socialists either.
You speak of acting rationally, well, we've been acting rationally every Friday at 4:20 for the last few years, feel free to come along and join us.

Making a stand

"Making a stand against a bad law" - come on, smoking weed around kids, in a public space and against the parents' wishes is 1:rude and 2: stupid because they can demand the police be called and this happens.
Nice to know that the greens can still make categorical comments when they apparently only turn up towards the end of the situation.
Either, of course, could happen seperately, but both events together indicates some sort of vote might be imminent . . .

campus arrests

Shame on the police and good on the students for making a stand against a bad law.
Only an ignorant fool would compare P to cannabis. A closer match would be alcohol because that like methamphetamine is a drug with a close association to violence .........
The sooner we have a rational drug policy where the police stop acting like government head kickers the better.
When they solve all the crimes committed by 'good blokes' beating up their partners then I'll believe that they have time to waste arrestting canabis activists.

Reefer madness

Great response Sammy, likening marijuana smokers to p users. This type of ill-informed propaganda has been going on since the 30's in the US as large companies linked Hemp to marijuana and claimed that crazed Mexican potheads were coming over the borders to rape women and children, in order to be able to push their synthetic products. Let's face it, alcohol is a far worse 'curse on society' and 7 police cars does seem an over the top response to a few people who were having a smoke and not interfering in the activities of others. Let's try and police the city on Friday and Saturday nights with 7 car loads of cops and try to stop the drunken brawls and other fights and leave those who are only quietly protesting in a democratic society to themselves as long as they are not hurting others.

Campus arrests

Good on the police for making a stand against these law breakers. Weed is a curse on society and needs some tough action! I'm sure people wouldn't be complainging if the cops had arrested P heads...
These people give student a bad name as pot smoking, left wing hippies.
I myself am a young student and the sooner these socialists who think they have better ideas than everone else start acting rationally the better!!!