Norml leader guilty

Cannabis campaigner Abe Gray is hoping to escape conviction for possessing cannabis and resisting and obstructing police at a student market day outside the Otago University Students Union building last year.

United States-born Abraham Gabriel Gray (26), leader of the Otago chapter of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml), had denied possessing 2g of cannabis plant and resisting and obstructing police on July 10.

The charges were to have been the subject of a defended hearing before Judge Emma Smith in the Dunedin District Court yesterday but Gray changed his plea.

An associated charge of possessing a pipe for smoking cannabis was earlier withdrawn by police.

Following Gray's guilty plea to the remaining three charges, counsel John Westgate asked for no conviction to be entered and for Gray to be remanded until later this month for an application for a discharge without conviction.

Judge Smith remanded him on bail to February 27.

The summary from Senior Sergeant Steven Armitage said two plain-clothes police officers went to the campus after complaints about a small group of people at a market day outside the student union.

The officers saw Gray in a group of people using a small magnifying glass to light cannabis they were smoking from a small multicoloured glass pipe.

When the group stopped smoking, the defendant put the pipe in his jacket pocket.

A police officer approached him and advised him he was being searched under the Misuse of Drugs Act but Gray was unco-operative.

He refused to move away from the crowd for the search and began disputing that he could be searched, accusing the officers of breaching his rights.

He was warned he could be arrested if he refused to allow the search but remained unco-operative and was arrested.

As Constable Brendan Harris was leading him to a police vehicle, Gray tried to pull away.

He began yelling to the crowd for help, claiming he was being assaulted.

A second officer had to assist Const Harris take Gray to the police vehicle but the defendant refused to get in.

He struggled with police, again claiming he was being assaulted and trying to incite the gathering crowd to "rescue" him.

He was soon restrained and handcuffed before being forced into the rear of the patrol car and taken to the Dunedin Central Police Station.

The glass pipe and a container with 2g of cannabis were found by police when they searched him.

Gray declined to make a statement.

He said he had done nothing wrong and police were breaching his rights.

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