Despite bad weather and a last minute change in venue, pro-cannabis campaigners still managed to get their message across.

A peaceful protest against cannabis laws was held on the corner of Fenton and Arawa Sts in Rotorua yesterday, one of many being held around New Zealand.

Organisers of the National Day of Action - Stop the Arrests event were calling for an immediate moratorium on cannabis arrests, prosecutions and any ongoing investigations into this type of offending.

Local businessman Andrew Bell hosted the Rotorua protest and because of the terrible weather had to make a last minute change of venue.


"The weather wasn't on our side and we decided not to head down to the police station because of the traffic, but there was a lot of support and it got a good nationwide profile, which was the point.

"I think it achieved what we were aiming for . . . Even though the numbers weren't that great in Rotorua we still got the message across.

"I believe we need to educate people on what cannabis actually is. I'm pleased that some people braved the weather and came out, everything starts somewhere," he said.

PEACEFUL PROTEST: Jeanette Saxby joined the protest in Rotorua. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
PEACEFUL PROTEST: Jeanette Saxby joined the protest in Rotorua. PHOTO/BEN FRASER

Jeanette Saxby, a drug and alcohol counsellor, came down from Paeroa to support Mr Bell as it was his first protest.

"We are trying to stop the arrests of regular people and the pointless waste of police resources."

She believed there were many ways the plant could be used for health benefits, like aiding sleep.

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Senior Sergeant Mike Membery, of the Bay of Plenty Police District Command Centre, said police had no troubles with the protest.

"They were all well behaved right across the region," he said.

Cannabis laws and penalties:

- Penalties associated with cannabis range from a $500 fine for possession to a 14 year jail term for its supply or manufacture.

- Cultivation of cannabis, including to sow or plant it, can result in a 7 year jail term or an immediate two year jail term and/or a $2000 fine (depending on the amount).