J Day crowd tiny; passing support big

A small bubble of Dunedin’s cannabis prohibition protesters used their annual J Day protest to show support for the Government’s cannabis referendum, which will take place later this year.

Only about four people gathered on the corner of King Edward St and McBride St on Saturday, between noon and 1pm, but they received a lot of support from passing motorists.

Campaigner Jannette Saxby, of South Dunedin, said keeping the protest alive in Dunedin was unique this year because Justice Minister Andrew Little recently released the final draft Bill and summary of policies that will be voted on in a yes/no vote at the general election on September 19.

"Politics continues towards the general election, despite the Covid-19 situation, and the hope of long-time cannabis activists is that this opportunity for change won’t be swept away in our post-pandemic period."

John Wilson uses the annual J Day protest on Saturday to encourage Dunedin residents to vote ‘...
John Wilson uses the annual J Day protest on Saturday to encourage Dunedin residents to vote ‘‘yes’’ in the upcoming cannabis referendum. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
The annual protest has been held in Dunedin for more than 35 years, and long-time South Dunedin campaigner John Wilson hoped this year’s protest would be the last.

"Some of us older generation have been protesting this for years. It’s time to make it legal and let us be.

"We have seen what social change can be done if we all realise that change needs to be made, and act on it as society."

Dunedin North campaigner and #MakeItLegal Dunedin co-ordinator Bert Holmes said as the nation moved into recovery mode following the pandemic, a "yes" vote for a law change could provide economic benefits.

"As we look toward opportunities of economic development, this referendum gives Aotearoa/New Zealand an opportunity to establish an entirely new sector overnight, create jobs and ring-fence economic gains domestically."

"Dunedin will not stand for a long fight for law change on cannabis in Aotearoa/New Zealand."

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