A group of cannabis law reform campaigners plan to meet in the carpark of Whangarei District Court and smoke marijuana every week, and did so yesterday for the first time without encountering trouble.

Purveyors of one of Northland's best-known exports proudly lit up in protest at the continued criminalisation of marijuana use.

The five gathered at the universal weed-smoking hour of 4.20pm, and said they planned to gather more followers to do the same as a weekly event.

"There are people locked up for this when it should be a health issue, not a criminal issue," said protest organiser Melissa Brown.

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Ms Brown said marijuana use was rampant and that it was better for it to be out in the open so those who needed help could seek it. "We think cannabis users should feel good about coming out of the wardrobe and lobbying central government on this."

At edition time, Sergeant Tai Patrick said police arranged to do a drive-by of the event, but it was not reported as causing problems.

Ms Brown said she was not worried about police disrupting the protest series. "No - I don't feel as though I'm doing anything wrong."

Several states in the United States have decriminalised or legalised marijuana for personal use in recent years.