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Cannabis Law Reform Advocate To Challenge Police

14 October 2004

Cannabis Law Reform Advocate To Challenge Police Search in Court Today

Community and environmental campaigner Duncan Eddy will appear at the Wellington District Court today to face four criminal charges. This is despite police offering to drop up to three of the charges if he pleads guilty to possession of less than one gram of cannabis, following an earlier not guilty plea on all charges.

Around 2am on April 14, a plainclothes police patrol near the corner of Cuba and Vivian Streets in Wellington smelt cannabis in the air. They approached Eddy, a prominent advocate of cannabis law reform, who refused to submit to a voluntary search. Police then invoked the emergency search powers of the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA).

Eddy challenged police grounds for invoking the MDA, and further refused to be searched. Police subsequently pressed charges of obstructing police, resisting arrest, possession of less than one gram of cannabis and possession of a cannabis pipe.

“ The arresting officer’s grounds for using the Act’s emergency search powers were based on mistaken speculations. Even though there was a little bud in my pocket, the search was illegal, so all charges should be dropped.” Said Eddy.

“Misuse of Drugs Act emergency searches are often based on flawed and hollow justifications. I look forward to seeing what the court has to say about this particular case. Police shouldn't be allowed to randomly search anyone just because they supposedly smell cannabis in a public area.”

Over four years ago, Eddy, who is a member of NORML New Zealand’s National Board of Directors, was sentenced to 2 weeks imprisonment after refusing to comply with a court imposed fine for cannabis possession.

He is also due to appear in the Wellington District Court on the 26th of October, jointly charged with putting warning labels on genetically engineered foods.

ENDS

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