J-Day revellers spark up amidst controversy
Drug dealers openly sold their wares and cannabis smokers toked up in public this afternoon during the 'J Day' celebrations.
Pro-cannabis gatherings were held today in Auckland, Hamilton, Whakatane, Taupo, Hastings, New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.
The events were organised by the Norml (the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and the Aotearoa Cannabis Party, who used the events to launch their General Election campaign.
At Auckland's Albert Park, not a uniformed police officer was in sight.
But about 20 security guards were present, watching on as dope was freely traded and smoked.
One dealer was openly selling small bags of cannabis at a table in the middle of the park.
Another dealer was a standholder who would only identify himself as "John of Warkworth".
He said of his products: "$15 for a king-size joint. They are just going like hotcakes."
'John' said J Day was all about "smoking the weed ... spreading the love."
In a week where debate has raged over the future legality of synthetic cannabis, 'John' said the time was right to make the personal use of cannabis legal.
"They should legalise cannabis because it has been around for years," John said.
"All this synthetic stuff hasn't been tested."
ALCP election hopeful Jeff Lye said as synthetic cannabis was still deemed legal until urgent Government legislation is passed later this month, he did not have a problem with people using it.
But he said legalising cannabis would rid many of the problems caused by the current legal highs.
"If you are were to legalise cannabis ... then that will absolutely put a dent in it [the industry]," Lye said.
"It might not kill it [the industry], but the people that [are] smoking legal highs it is because it is [legal]. Legalise cannabis and they will smoke cannabis."
Lye said he was looking forward to campaigning for cannabis law reform in the lead-up to the September General Election.
He said the current laws criminalising cannabis smokers were "unjust".
"You have got all these people here, they are having a really good time." Lye said.
"There is no alcohol, they are just laxed back, having a joint ... no one is offended, no real laws have been broken. But if the police were to come in there would be so many people locked up for a criminal conviction which to me is crazy, it is outrageous."
Not all the trading going on during J Day at Albert Park was illegal.
A mobile doughnut stand was doing a roaring trade as event-goers succumbed to mid-afternoon munchies.