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Medical Cannabis rally and march this Saturday 23rd April

It's 420 Day: NORML presents the Medical Cannabis rally and march this Saturday 23rd April, and J Day on Saturday 7th May 2016.

March 20 is known as "420 Day" in the cannabis community. It is a day to celebrate the plant, including its medicinal and sacramental properties, and raise awareness of calls for law reform. All around the world, including here in New Zealand, there will be random acts of civil disobedience at 4:20pm.

NORML New Zealand is using the opportunity to announce two upcoming events: the Medical Cannabis rally and march this Saturday 23rd April (Auckland, Nelson and Dunedin) and the 25th Annual J Day on Saturday 7th May 2016.

The Medical Cannabis rally and march on Saturday 23rd April (Aotea Square, 1pm - also in Nelson and Dunedin) aims to raise awareness and demonstrate public support for safe legal access to medical cannabis.

Rallies will also be held in Nelson (Trafalgar steps) and Dunedin (outside MP Michael Woodhouse's office).

"Treating yourself should not be a crime," said spokesperson Chris Fowlie. "These protests will draw together patients who use medical cannabis, their caregivers, families and friends, support groups, unions, and socials justice campaigners. The aim is to raise awareness of the terrible situation created by the current law, and support calls for compassionate, safe, legal access to medical cannabis."

Two recent polls put support for medical cannabis at over 70 per cent. Prominent New Zealanders calling for safe legal access to medical cannabis, and treating cannabis use as a health issue rather than a crime, include: Alison Mau, Marcus Lush, Dr Michelle Dickinson (Nanogirl), New Zealander of the Year Dr Lance O'Sullivan, Metiria Turei, Kevin Hague, Damian 'Conner, Greg O'Connor, Kelvin Davis, Jack Tame, Russell Brown, Helen Kelly, Anna Osborne, Rose Renton, the late Sir Paul Holmes and Martin Crowe, Ross Bell of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, and recent editorials in theDominion Post and New Zealand Herald.

The Government of Victoria, Australia, legalised medical cannabis last week. Full passage of the law took only a month. Also last week Pennsylvania became the 24th US state to legalise medical cannabis. World leaders meeting in New York today are expected to declare the War on Drugs a failure and recommend reforming the UN drug treaties.

"New Zealand patients continue to suffer," said Mr Fowlie. "The existing criteria are too restrictive, the process is too slow and Sativex - the one pharmaceutical extract that is approved here - is far too expensive. Most doctors are put off applying and, even if they can get Sativex prescribed, most people cannot afford to pay for it.

"Patients urgently need safe legal access to affordable high quality medical cannabis. The process needs to be made easier. Doctors need assurance they won't be persecuted for recommending it. Patients need more options than pharmaceutical derivatives like Sativex, such as natural herbal remedies made from cannabis, and the ability to grow their own.

"The march is also a big thank-you to Helen Kelly for the work she has done to raise awareness of this issue," said Mr Fowlie.

Medical Cannabis rally and march
• Saturday 23rd April 2016, at 1pm
• Auckland - Aotea Square
• Nelson - Trafalgar Steps
• Dunedin - outside MP Michael Woodhouse's office

• Smoke-Free event
• More information: https://norml.org.nz/2016/the-medical-cannabis-march-sat-23rd-april-2016-aotea-sq-auckland/
• Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1746546912278953/
• Supported by NORML, GreenCross, It's Medicine, Medical Cannabis Awareness NZ, Unite, Socialist Aotearoa

The 25th Annual J Day is on Saturday 7th May, nationwide.

J Day is held on the first Saturday in May, in over 200 cities around the world, until the War on Drugs is over. This year's theme is: "Stop the war, start the healing".

"J Day is a global protest against pot prohibition and celebration of cannabis culture," said organiser Chris Fowlie. "This year we are marking not only 25 years of J Days - it began in 1992 - but also forty years of Misuse of Drugs Act enforcement, and twenty years since we founded the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party. With all the talk of drug law reform lately, we have plenty to celebrate.

"NORML is calling for an immediate moratorium on cannabis arrests, because it's impossible to have a fair, even, conversation when one side is branded criminals.

"We are calling for the Police to stop arresting people for cannabis use or possession in light of the current debate. Our police have the discretionary powers to achieve drug peace, if they want it.

"The NZ Police are already decriminalising by stealth. Let's make it an official policy so they can get on with solving crime that matters. We need to stop this insane War on Drugs, and start healing our patients and our divided communities."

J Day Saturday 7 May 2016 locations:
• Whangarei - William Fraser Park
• Auckland - Albert Park
• Taupo - The Black Shed
• Hastings - Library/ANZAC Memorial
• Wellington - Frank Kitts
• Christchurch - Latimer Square
• Dunedin - The Octagon

• All events are R18, free, and run High Noon to 4:20pm.
• More information: https://norml.org.nz/2016/norml-presents-the-25th-annual-j-day-sat-7-may-2016-everywhere/
• Facebook page: www.facebook.com/nzjday
• Supported by: NORML, The Hempstore, The Cannabis Party, CLEAR, TLCC, Dads4Marijuana, GreenCross & more.


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