Guilty Verdict for Cannabis Law Reform Advocate
NORML. National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, NZ
Guilty Verdict for Cannabis Law Reform Advocate.
This evening shortly before 5.30 pm, at the Wellington District Court., Judge Behrens QC found community and environmental campaigner Duncan Eddy guilty of possession of less than one gram of cannabis, obstructing police, and resisting arrest.
These charges followed an incident in Cuba Mall on the 14th of April where Police invoked the emergency search powers of section 18.3 the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1975. Eddy disputed the justifications for the search and after a heated argument was subsequently arrested for obstruction and resistance.
Following an early not guilty plea, Police offered to drop three charges of an original four charges if Eddy agreed to plead guilty to possession of cannabis or obstruction. Eddy turned down this offer, seeing this an opportunity to put the often abused emergency search powers of the Misuse of Drugs Act on trial. The Police offer is a victory, according to Eddy, who encourages people charged with minor cannabis offences to plead not guilty at their first court appearance.
Judge Behren the officers smelling cannabis and supposedly seeing the defendant smoking a joint justified the search.
“Police claimed I placed the joint in my pocket when approached. Yet my pocket didn’t go on fire and no joint or remains of a joint were uncovered when I was searched. The officers initially said they were invoking the act because they smelt cannabis. When I protested that these grounds were not enough, they said they saw me smoking this non existent joint.” Said Eddy.
Police dropped the possession of pipe charge. For possession of cannabis, Eddy was convicted and discharged with no sentence. The other two convictions carried a sentence of 80 hours community service. Eddy is considering appealing.