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Blog the Fourth

A small victory


For those readers (do I have readers?) who are not familiar with the Daktory, it was Auckland’s cannabis club, the first ever to open in New Zealand and the only one of its kind in the world. Much loved by regular patrons and known to stoners around the world, the club opened in November 2008 and was forced to close in June 2012 due to heavy handed police action.


The consequences of the three police raids in 2012 are still being decide through the courts – ever so slowly, as is the way with courts. Some of the charges against the managers of the Daktory have been dismissed – which brings me to the victory claim.


The Daktory had a vending machine which was used to dispense bags of cannabis. It was a great feature that delighted first time visitors, who would often get their photos taken next to it.


The vending machine was seized by police during their first raid of the club, which took place in March 2012. After nearly three years of courtroom drama, the raid was ruled an illegal search and the police were forced to return the vending machine and cash that they had confiscated.


The ruling hinged on whether the police had been invited to enter the premises – as they claimed – or whether they had illegally forced their way in. As luck would have it, on the evening of the raid the club’s security door was being repaired – which meant it was not closed as normally and the cops were able to push their way in despite the protests of staff who tried to stop them.


After CCTV footage of the police entry was viewed in court, the judge ruled that the police entry was a trespass. The cop who led the raid, Sergeant Michael Lawes, testified under oath that he and the cops with him had been invited in, and repeated this lie even after the footage was shown.


Collecting the vending machine from the police became a TV news item as Dakta Green – founder of the Daktory – brought the famous Cannabus to pick it up from the police station where it had been held. The Cannabus, boldly painted with “Legalise Cannabis” along its sides, is known throughout New Zealand from its extensive travels around the country promoting the cause of freedom. It would have been a more prominent news item if not for the Sydney hostage drama which took place on the same day.


Dakta Green has laid a complaint of perjury against Michael “Breaker” Lawes for his lying under oath at the court hearing.  Considering how the police look after their own, it remains to be seen how enthusiastically they will prosecute this charge.


Having charges dismissed and getting property returned is a small victory in the long struggle to end cannabis prohibition. In this struggle any victory is worth celebrating. The Daktory is gone but not forgotten – one day a cannabis club will be no more remarkable than a bar that serves alcohol. I just hope I live to see it.