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New Zealand protesters sow marijuana plants on Parliament grounds

When anti-vaccination activists finally left the grounds of the New Zealand Parliament after a three-week occupation, they left behind a scene of destruction and disorder – including the charred remains of a children’s playground, camping equipment and human excrement.

This week, a man eating lunch in Parliament’s garden spotted something else that had been left behind by protesters – cannabis seedlings nestled among cabbages and marigolds.

The unidentified man told Radio New Zealand, the national broadcaster, that while he may not have been “inhaling” at the university, he had a “pretty good idea” of what type of plants were sprouting “just meters from the debate room”.

The discovery prompted a swift operation by groundsmen to find, uproot and destroy the plants secretly sown in the Parliament Gardens in the capital, Wellington.

“We’re pulling out the weeds,” Parliament Speaker Trevor Mallard assured New Zealanders in a statement.

The discovery raised questions about what other surprises the protesters might leave behind, as a new anti-vaccination group took to social media to plan another protest for Friday.

A representative from the compound told the national broadcaster that “a lot” of marijuana seeds had been scattered by protesters. Seedlings for coriander, tomatoes, other vegetables and herbs were also left behind. The man who originally found the marijuana plants called it “a disgrace,” adding, “The law is the law.”

In New Zealand, possession and production of recreational cannabis remain illegal after 53 percent of voters voted against legalizing marijuana in a 2020 referendum. Ahead of the vote, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declined to throw her support behind either side to avoid, she suggested, influencing the outcome. She later announced that she voted for legalization.

The protest against the country’s strict vaccination regulations lasted 23 days and drew hundreds of people from across the country. The crowd grew to include conspiracy theorists and others who came to the site to lash out at various wrongs. What began as a peaceful protest in the style of a music festival ended in dramatic and sometimes bloody clashes with the police. fires broke out. The protesters carried fire extinguishers, paint-filled projectiles and other homemade weapons. Dozens of officers were injured.

Weeks later, relations between the New Zealand government and protesters against the vaccination mandate remain strained.

Last Wednesday, Ms Ardern announced the country would be moving away from its vaccination requirements and lifting other Covid restrictions, including ending vaccination cards in shops and other venues, despite the Omicron variant causing widespread outbreaks.

However, some groups are pushing for a complete end to these restrictions. A new anti-vaccine group announced plans to protest in Wellington on Friday, urging workers to erect fences around Parliament and police officers to turn themselves in.

In the end, few people showed up to protest at a war memorial near Parliament. The rain had started to fall – perfect for seedlings but apparently not for protesters.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/01/world/asia/new-zealand-parliament-weed.html New Zealand protesters sow marijuana plants on Parliament grounds

Brian Ashcraft

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