A sea of smoke and haze filled Albert Park last Saturday, a smog so thick you could hardly see a foot in front of you. Was Skycity on fire again? Did the University mysteriously catch ablaze? No, unfortunately. It was just J-Day!
J-Day is a free annual community event bringing attention to Aotearoa’s cannabis culture and protesting against the prohibition of marijuana. This passive protest was cancelled last year and saw a great influx of people trying to catch up for the missed opportunity on May 1st.
From “high noon” to “four-twenty,” hundreds gathered to smoke up and protest the criminalisation of cannabis. With food and merchandise stalls people came to demonstrate, hang out with friends and enjoy a very relaxing day in the park.
In speaking to protest goers, all were very disappointed in the referendum results but believed in the precedence of once believed to be radical laws of the time.
The anti smacking legislation was used as a frequent example, just like the cannabis referendum, it was initially met with a lot of criticism. In its first poll 88% voted no to the question, “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?” A now passed law, it is unreasonable to believe smacking is a justified use of discipline.
Taking the time to talk to talk to some protestors we heard a range of stories, from cautionary synthetic cannabis stories to friends who have been smoking for 20+ years. Though the stories ranged and differentiated from one another, there was a shared thought throughout. The imminent need for cannabis decriminalisation. The high rate of colour coded incarceration was the number one reason protestors believed that the legislation on cannabis needed to be reformed now. Māori have similar smoking stats to other communities in New Zealand but are persecuted much more severely tainting not only the person’s mana but their future also.
We have heard miracle stories of cannabis used as a rongoā to alleviate menstrual cramps, used in balms to cure eczema and in its purest form to relax. Drug offences and traffic offending figures are four times higher for Māori than for Pākehā, a figure that remained unchanged from 1991 to 2007. Events like J-Day are here to not only protest prohibition but institutionalised racism also in New Zealand.
There’s always hope for change but in the meantime here’s some crack up green out stories.
Code Word for Weed: “‘Umbrohi’ which is an Estonian word for weed”
Side-splitting Stoner Stories: “Since becoming adults me and my partner have been travelling the world in our van. While travelling the desert roads of Australia we would often spark up on the long empty highway. One time we were smoking and it was just us, the road, and a pack of kangaroos following our scent of weed. It was pretty freaky.”
Cannabis referendum: “We couldn’t vote and are disappointed in the results. Cannabis has been decriminalised in Estonia since 2002 so it would be awesome to see the same happen in New Zealand.”
Code word for weed: “Mull, Chop, Spin”
Side-Splitting Stoner Stories: “Once I tried smoking synthetic weed when it was legal and I had a full on breakdown. I don’t remember much but I was told I was talking everyone’s heads off, ran all over the place and tried to ram my way, head first, through a group of people. I even tried to matrix slide under the garage door. I don’t even know how they managed to legalise that shit first but it was deadly. I haven’t had a similar experience since smoking straight weed.”
I’m really annoyed about the referendum results. But looking on the bright side…Weed is still cheap.
Code word for weed: “Cones, Bowls”
Side-Splitting Stoner Stories: “Gave my friend his first ever cone and he was algood. Then he smoked a few more and things took a turn. Dude said he was falling through circles and had the worst case of the spins. He was drooling everywhere and looked greener than the indoor strains we were smoking. We had to put him to bed soon after. Teach him for trying to mix weed and baccy his first time.”
Cannabis referendum: “Voted yes! Annoyed at the result but seeing that the referendum was a near 50/50 split there’s hope that this initial verdict could change.”
Code word for weed: “Huff”
Side-Splitting Stoner Stories: “While meeting my partner’s cool, older brother for the first time he offered me a joint. And then another. And then another. I staggered my way into the house to try catch a break and I ended up forward rolling onto the couch and passing out. Apparently I flipped onto the couch really gracefully and fell asleep in a swooning pose.
Cannabis referendum: Voted yes. I’m dissapointed but if we’re taking the anti-smacking laws as precedent then I have hope we can turn it around.”