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NORML Pres. On Trial For Possession Of Cannabis

1 February 2002

NORML President On Trial For Possession Of Cannabis

Friday 8 February, Auckland District Court, Albert St, Auckland, from 10am

Chris Fowlie, NORML’s President since 1997, is scheduled to appear in the Auckland District Court next Friday, 8 February 2002, to defend a criminal charge of possession of cannabis.

Mr Fowlie, who sells tonnes of legal cannabis every year with his job as managing director of The Hempstore Aotearoa, has been charged by Police with possessing less than a gram of cannabis. The charge stems from an arbitrary search on Karangahape Road early Sunday 17 June 2001.

Mr Fowlie has entered a Not Guilty plea, intends to use his trial to demonstrate the injustice of cannabis prohibition laws, and to tie up the already-overloaded court system as much as possible.

A full day has been set aside for the trial, Mr Fowlie’s forth appearance relating to this charge. Three police officers and an ESR technician will be paid by the taxpayer to spend the day in court instead of at work. The cost to the taxpayer of this prosecution has been estimated by Mr Fowlie at more than $6000 so far.

Several defence witnesses will be called, including Green MP Nandor Tanczos, Mr Fowlie’s long-time friend and business partner, who will appear as a character witness.

“Last year more than a thousand people were prosecuted for cannabis possession in the Auckland District Court alone. The enforcement of cannabis prohibition is only possible through the cooperation of it’s victims. The over-loaded courts can only cope because most people are duped into pleading guilty. I will show that it only takes a few of us to stand up and this ‘house of cards’ will fall over,” he said.

“Over half the adult population has broken this law, and half a million New Zealanders will admit to being regular cannabis smokers. These people are not criminals but otherwise law-abiding citizens who are being persecuted simply for their choice of herb. Cannabis is a non-toxic and non-addictive herb with thousands of years of widespread enjoyment and not one death resulting from its use. The laws prohibiting cannabis violate the fundamental principles of justice because they prohibit, on threat of imprisonment, private behaviour that results in little or no harm to society.”

“I am a conscientious objector, and like the pacifists at Parihaka, followers of Ghandi, the black civil rights movement, the Springbok and anti-nuclear protesters, I can never cooperate with this law or any punishment given to me. Therefore I will ask the Court to either throw out the charges or throw me in jail.”

Mr Fowlie has no criminal record, and faces a maximum penalty of up to three months imprisonment and/or a $500 fine.

-- Contact: Chris Fowlie on 09 3025255 or 025 297 6843 --

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