A campaigner for medical marijuana abandoned his own event after fears police may clamp down.
Co-organiser Dakkie Aikad helped organise the inaugural Picton J Day event, but comments from police in a Marlborough App article spooked the cannabis campaigner.
However, his concerns were in vain as the police were not in “direct attendance”, according to a police media representative.
“The police attitude in your article tells me they will be making arrests if anyone uses cannabis tomorrow, so I will no longer be making the trip to attend.” Dakkie says.
“I have too much to lose and too many people relying on me so I’m out.”
The police statement says there were no arrests or issues for police.
Shane Mckenzie and Dakkie Aikad organised Picton’s first ever J Day, on Saturday, as part of a nationwide series of events.
The pair hoped their “family friendly” efforts would educate the public ahead of next year’s referendum on legalising the personal use of marijuana.
Shane, a Picton hairdresser, encouraged people to bring their own joints to the event but has warned people to be safety conscious.
“It’s sort of like crate day but way better, way safer. You don’t get a bunch of drunk idiots,” Shane says.
“Some joints will be handed out but please bring your own stash if you have it but not large quantities for safety reasons.”
Shane, who has been attending J Days for more than 10 years, says the event is about informing the public about medicinal marijuana.
“People who are chronically ill should turn up,” Shane says. “There’s no drug dealing, no bad stuff.
Shane broke his neck “years and years ago” and uses medicinal marijuana as a substitute for heavy painkillers.
Shane says the idea is to help educate people.
“Bad behaviour or intimidation will not be tolerated.
“Let’s keep this event family friendly and educate our new generation about the benefits of cannabis but used in a safe way.
“Everyone knows it’s a trouble-free event.
Marlborough Area Commander Inspector Simon Feltham says police are aware of the J Day Picton event.
“We will have a presence in the area,” Simon says.
“The role of the police is to enforce the law and our approach to cannabis has not changed.”
He says police have discretion on how they deal with a range of matters, including cannabis offences, on a case-by-case basis.
J Day is an initiative started by the social activism group, National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
Organisers describe the event as a national day of action supporting cannabis law reform, including safe legal access to medicinal cannabis.
It’s been held on the first Saturday in May every year in over 100 cities around the world.
For further information visit norml.org.nz/campaign/j-day-is-the-first-saturday-in-may/