Matthew Theunissen is a business reporter

Pro-cannabis campaigners protest at police stations

Pro-cannabis campaigners this afternoon gathered outside police stations around the country to call for a moratorium on the arrest and prosecution of users.

Recreational and medical users joined with human rights activists to call for end to what they see as police harassment.

About 20 campaigners gathered at Auckland's Aotea Square and then walked to Auckland Central Police Station, including Pearl Schomburg who uses cannabis for chronic pain resulting from multiple health issues.

"We're here today to hold a peaceful protest and to ask Commissioner Mike Bush for a moratorium to be placed on the cannabis community," she said.

Schomburg read and then presented a letter to the officers at the station on behalf of the protesters.

"The police also want clarity and compassion, for patients in particular.

They also need the laws to be a lot clearer and a lot more in keeping with people's views and recent polls."

Schomburg said a moratorium would give medicinal users better access to cannabis and a better quality of the drug. The protesters returned to Aotea Square without incident.

Some of the protesters had said they would smoke cannabis outside police stations and before the events said they would ask officers to go inside "so that they do not see or smell anything". However, the Auckland protesters didn't light their joints until they returned to Aotea Square.

Among the protesters was Hanna Klos, whose husband Henk died about eight months ago after a painful battle with cancer.

"He died a most horrific death and he didn't want to do anything illegal to alleviate the pain - he would rather be legally dead than illegally alive," she said.

"I'm a little bit angry with the world because I think cannabis could have at least given him a nicer ride out of this world and into the next."Before the protest, police said in a statement they had "the appropriate police resources at each event across the country to deal with any issues that may arise".

"Police as an organisation is well practised in dealing with these events, and our staff will work to ensure an effective response is provided based on the circumstances of each matter at the time," they said

"Police respects people's right to lawful protest, and our focus will be around peaceful protest and responding appropriately to any issues regarding disorder or public safety. Police will not be offering comment on the case being advocated by the protesters.

"We can say that the role of police is to enforce the law and the police approach to cannabis has not changed. Police officers do however have discretion on how they deal with a range of matters, including cannabis offences, on a case by case basis. That is the approach which will be taken with today's protest activity."

Police said later there had been no arrests or incidents resulting from the protest.

- NZ Herald

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