I didn’t know Stephen McIntyre, my NORML friends are almost all local to Wellington where I have been living for some decades now.

I heard of his death when it happened, because he was known to some of my friends. We began our White Flag meeting in August with a minute’s silence in remembrance of his life and his activism.

Just recently, Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury has been doing a series of stories about what happened in the circumstances surrounding Stephen’s death by suicide.
This lead to an article in the NZ Herald, and a follow-up post by Bomber, in response to the Police acting Western Area Commander DI Karyn Malthus, quoted in the Herald piece.

There is more to come tomorrow, says Bomber. This is another case where IPCA has shown themselves to be neither Independent, nor adequately investigating complaints.

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NORML protest poster 29 Oct

NORML protest poster 29 Oct

Billy McKee is facing four charges of selling small quantities of cannabis to an undercover policeman, and one of cultivating the plant. He is being sentenced 30th October at Palmerston North High Court.

So here’s the plan, we are arriving at Palmerston North High Court on 29th October by 4:00 pm for a public display of non-violent civil disobedience at 4:20 pm, we will then picket the courthouse until 8pm at which our overnight candlelight vigil will begin, devoted to Billy McKee and in solidarity with all medical cannabis users around NZ and the world.

From 10am on 30th October we will picket the courthouse and sit with him in the courtroom until he is sentenced and freed.

Everyone is encouraged to come along. We need to people to share this event and invite their friends, social media is a very powerful tool so let’s use it!

We are traveling from around the country to support Billy McKee, who is a medical cannabis user, amputee and director of GreenCross.org.nz

Recently Green party co-Leader Meteria Turei wrote a post on frogblog about Billy’s case – Billy McKee should be discharged.

Billy McKee, who hosts the GreenCross NZ medical cannabis users website, was arrested in 2010 on charges relating to his medical cannabis use.

Billy campaigns for legalisation of cannabis, and considers that it is one of the best medications to deal with chronic pain.

Supporters from Invercargill to Auckland converged on Palmerston North on September 3, 2012 outside the District Court to stage a peaceful protest in support of Billy Mckee.

Billy lost a leg below the knee when a drunk driver deliberately rammed his motorbike over 30 years ago. The incident resulted in him being confined to a wheelchair and in constant pain from nerve damage to the stump as well as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

The pain medications he was prescribed by doctors caused intolerable side effects where even driving was considered unsafe. He found that the only thing that controlled his pain, depression, irritability and other symptoms, while still allowing him to function, was cannabis.

This led him to study the medical benefits of cannabis, become a counsellor and form GreenCross, an organisation devoted to helping sick people obtain relief through the medicinal use of cannabis.

McKee now faces jail time for running GreenCross and helping sick patients obtain their medicine.

He was entrapped by an undercover police officer posing as someone suffering from severe migraines. McKee said that migraines can indicate in the early stages of brain tumors and many people have found that cannabis relieves the symptoms of migraines and allows them to function normally.

McKee accepted the young man as being a genuine sufferer. The undercover cop appealed to his compassion in asking Billy to supply him with cannabis. Billy says, “I was really worried about him.”

As a result of trying to help someone, Billy is now facing charges that could see him sent to prison for up to eight years. Prison terms have also been imposed on other medical cannabis users due to a law that lacks compassion.

McKee, who is going to a jury trial, is calling for jury nullification of the charges of the grounds they breach his human rights.

The case continues on Tuesday morning, beginning at 10.00am in Palmerston North District Court.

Update:

Tuesday’s Court hearings were mostly held in closed Court, due to Police undercover investigators testifying. Evidence was not completed by the close of day and the hearings were adjourned until Wednesday morning.

Wednesday saw the end of evidence production and summing up by the Crown prosecutor and defense. The Jury retired at 11am to consider the charges, and came out with verdicts at 2.25pm after breaking for lunch.
Billy McKee was convicted on five charges. Sentencing has been set down for Palmerston North District Court on the 30th October, 2012. Billy has been bailed to his home address while awaiting sentencing.

March White Flag event.

March 5, 2012

It’s time for a monthly activism event for cannabis legalisation.

WHAT?
NORML White Flag Meeting

WHERE?
NZ Parliament Buildings
Molesworth Street
Wellington 6160
New Zealand

WHEN?
6th MARCH, 01:00pm at the Richard Sedden statue.
Assemble in front of Cenotaph at 12:45pm

WHY?
To demand the immediate release of Dakta Green from Mt Eden prison.
To highlight the Law Commission Report on the review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.
Also, continue to request compassion, and common sense cannabis law reform – and an Armistice to end the War on Drugs.

HOW?
We carry with us, the international symbol for peaceful dialogue – The White Flag.
We will walk from the Cenotaph at 01:00pm up to the Richard Sedden statue. Once there, we will pause for a One Minute Silence for the victims of the global War on Drugs.
Following that, will be a few words spoken regarding our actions, and our intentions for these meetings, with a reading of the letter, and then a photo or two..

NORML members, and also non-members are all welcome, a desire for sensible law reform is all that is required.

I’ve been back in the City for about 3 weeks now.
The provinces were great, thanks for asking.

But I’ve been somewhat amazed by the barrage of ‘drug-driving’ messages I’ve seen since I started taking city buses again. They’re everywhere, on billboards, Adshell light-boxes in bus-stops, and the charming little leaflet I picked up in the library, hoping it might shed some light on the statements being made.

There is a website published in the leaflet, drivinghigh.org.nz, which when plugged into one’s browser merely re-directs to this Facebook page. Which looks like a functional webpage that’s been shoe-horned into a tiny FB frame. It gets worse if you click on the NZ Drug Foundation link on that page – sends you to an even more scrunched FB page. Still not a lot of facts. Or a link to the actual NZ Drug Foundation website.

So I did a little more digging. There have been other commentators already posting about this campaign, here and on NORML’s website here.

Disclosure statement: my Dad is an alcoholic, and I’m a teetotaller these days.

My personal opinion on drunk and drugged driving is informed by my experiences as a child, teenager and young adult passenger in my Dad’s car. Yes, he’s been disqualified from driving for various periods while I was growing up; once, hilariously, charged with drunk-in-charge on a bicycle. I love the man, but don’t condone that behaviour.

On to drugged driving – I think the campaign is flawed, it is conflating behaviour around class A drugs and hallucinogenics with cannabis use, and makes some statements that are pretty hard to back up.
The video campaigns seen on TV (yes, I’ve been watching advertising, to my great regret) are all faked ‘covert’ surveillance, and none of them are backed by figures for blood test results, arrests or convictions, which would surely have been used if the ad agency hadn’t just been faking footage.
God knows the cops have never been reticent about the privacy issues of defendants any time in the past four and a half years, let alone the previous decades.

There is no reference to the excellent Law Commission report published in 2011, which recommended, among other things, that decriminalisation of cannabis would free up a lot of Police time, a lot of Justice resources (both Courts and Corrections) and leave the agencies concerned free to investigate serious drug offenders. Studies taken overseas were referred to, and the common knowledge that Amsterdam is not a hotbed of crime (where cannabis is legal), neither is Portugal, or any other jurisdiction where possession of cannabis for personal use has been decriminalised.

I fear we are at the hands of yet another bone-headed, oversimplified, ad-agency driven piece of drivel that once again plays to the red-necks in the gallery, and protects the beer-barons, while being quite totally ineffective in any meaningful ‘harm-reduction’ sense.

This all comes on top of a White Flag event at Parliament on Tuesday that got somewhat swamped by the Anti-Asset Sales brigade, and the Anti-Fracking brigade. My, what a lot of grumpy people waving banners and shouting there were. NORML supporters were the most friendly and relaxed amongst the crowd. 😉

NORML supporters near the Cenotaph, about to head up to Parliament steps

NORML supporters near the Cenotaph, about to head up to Parliament steps

WHAT?
NORML White Flag Meeting

WHERE?
NZ Parliament Buildings
Molesworth Street
Wellington 6160
New Zealand

WHEN?
2nd AUGUST, 01:00pm at the Richard Seddon statue.
Assemble in front of Cenotaph at 12:45pm

WHY?
To highlight the Law Commission Report on the review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.
Also, continue to request compassion, and common sense cannabis law reform – and an Armistice.

HOW?
We carry with us, the international symbol for peaceful dialogue – The White Flag.
We will walk from the Cenotaph at 01:00pm up to the Richard Seddon statue. Once there, we will pause for a One Minute Silence for the victims of the global War on Drugs.
Following that, will be a few words spoken regarding our actions, and our intentions for these meetings, with a reading of the letter, and then a photo or two..

….AND THEN?
Meeting over, we will take advantage of the Speaker’s decision from Armistice Day 2010.
We will stay behind the barriers, we won’t cause any violence, and then we will consume some cannabis.

“Senior Sergeant Scott Miller said police had acted in consultation with the Speaker of the House, Lockwood Smith, and a decision had been made to monitor the situation and act only if there was violence or an attempt to breach the barricades.” – Dominion Post 11/11/2010

NORML members, and also non-members are all welcome, a desire for sensible law reform is all that is required.

(I admit to having shamelessly stolen this entire post from Gary Chiles.)

Update
Well that went well, and Green MP Metiria Turei managed to squeeze in a quick stop by to discuss things with a few of the NORML crew, in between caucus meetings and the 2pm resumption of Parliament for the next session.

Green MP Metiria Turei speaking with NORML members

Green MP Metiria Turei speaking with NORML members


NORML White Flag rally with monument

NORML White Flag rally with monument

In case you missed it, there was an excellent documentary shown on TV3’s Inside New Zealand show, linked below, discussing the ongoing debate about decriminalisation of cannabis use in New Zealand. Dakta Green, aka Ken Morgan, speaks frankly about his campaigning through NORML and the West Auckland property he has converted from warehousing into The Daktory, a ‘member’s only’ cannabis club.

There is also commentary from lawyers, drug harm reduction researchers and health officials in NZ, UK, and Australia, and a segment from Warren Young of the Law Commission, who have released a report on the Review of the 1975 Misuse of Drugs Act, which recommends changes to the legislation.

http://ondemand.tv3.co.nz/Inside-New-Zealand-High-Time/tabid/59/articleID/3498/MCat/342/Default.aspx

I thoroughly recommend anyone to view this, it covers all of the issues very well, in a fair and unbiased way. Incidentally, it includes some footage of Billy McKee taken at his home in Levin, showing the extent of his disability and the way in which he medically uses dried cannabis as an infusion to drink, and a poultice for muscular pain. This was aired just after Billy’s arrest, but produced some weeks ago, as it mentions Dakta Green’s recent conviction, but not Billy’s arrest last week.

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