12 January 2010
Cannabis clubs – where users flout the law by meeting to smoke and
buy the Class C drug – may soon open nationwide.
Next month founding members of New Zealand’s first cannabis
connoisseurs’ club, Auckland’s Daktory, plan to meet fellow users
throughout the country to help set-up Daktories in other cities.
“We have demand from virtually every city in the country,” Daktory
founder Dakta Green told Sunday News.
“I would expect to see in the next 12 months Daktories in every major
city in this country, every city should have at least one – 2010 is
the year people within our culture are demanding changes throughout the world.”
Auckland’s Daktory, in New Lynn, plans to offer “degrees in
Daktology” later this year – formalised study on all aspects of the
cannabis industry including hands-on cultivation techniques.
For the first two-and-a-half months the Daktory was open cannabis was
sold from the venue, and at one point almost 20 different strands of
cannabis were available.
That was stopped, not by police, but by demand Green said: “It got
too popular and too busy.” Cannabis is again for sale from the
Daktory, as it’s planned to be at all newly established cannabis clubs.
The Daktory’s nationwide plans follow more than a year of hassle-free
law-breaking by club members.
In the 14 months since the Daktory opened – in November 2008 – there
hadn’t been a single police raid on their Delta St premises until
Sunday News asked questions of police this week.
Police national headquarters refused to comment, as did Waitakere
police, but yesterday four police cars swooped on the Daktory.
Officers executed a search warrant and Daktory members said they
confiscated lighting equipment and lap-top computers.
Detective Rhys Wilson wouldn’t comment on what police had seized, but
said a number of exhibits had been taken and police had a
considerable amount of work to do at the address. Police charged one
man with cultivating cannabis and further charges against him were
likely, Wilson said.
The Daktory boasts more than 2000 members who pay a monthly fee to
smoke (mainly, their own cannabis) within the club’s spacious warehouse.
Members, whose names remain confidential, must be at least 18 and
sign up for a year’s membership. Green, 59, said the oldest
club-member was “in their late 70s”, and that doctors, lawyers, court
officials and business people were among the membership.
Schoolteachers were most highly represented, he said. Green, who
changed his name from Ken Morgan by Deed Pole, runs the Daktory. He
holds the company shares in trust, but plans to turn ownership over
to a community trust in the near future.
That model is planned to be replicated nationwide: “We are a model
for that to happen”.
Dad-of-three Green, who is also a Norml – The National Organisation
for the Reform of Marijuana Laws – board member wants cannabis
legalised. The Daktory, like Norml’s aptly named Mary Jane bus which
is parked there, is a protest vehicle.
“We wish to legalise cannabis, but we also wish to live like it’s
legal,” Green said.
“So in my home [Green lives at the Daktory] we have a motto ‘live
like it’s legal’. We just think it’s wrong and there’s no reason to
continue with serious criminality of something that is as relatively
harmless as cannabis.”
And Green and his members certainly ‘live like it’s legal’ at the Daktory.
Next to one coffee table, cannabis spotting knives sit on an element,
a gas bottle connected beneath. Plastic bongs, bucket bongs and
cannabis smoking pipes are scattered about.
When Sunday News toured the premises this week, more than a dozen
cannabis plants were being grown on a sunny window-sill and two
others under a heat lamp, in a metallic, heat-reflecting box, locked
off from the lounge area.
In Green’s upstairs kitchen, half a dozen cannabis bongs – plastic,
metal and glass, small and large – were scattered about and White
Rhino strand cannabis buds were present in a glass container.
Under the Misuse of Drug Act 1975 possession of cannabis is
punishable by three months’ jail and or a fine of up to $500 and
possession for supply and cultivation of cannabis is punishable by up
to seven years’ jail. Possessing cannabis utensils is also illegal.
Last month, when asked about the Daktory, New Lynn sergeant Grant
Watson said police’s position on cannabis was quite clear – it’s illegal.
“It doesn’t matter where you are, in a private dwelling or anywhere,
smoking and possessing cannabis is an offence against the Misuse of
Drugs Act and carries a fine and/or a term of imprisonment, ” he said.
Before busting the Daktory yesterday, police had targeted motorists
leaving the Daktory during the new year period. Green took issue with
this because “it’s a waste of police resources” and he believes that
type of policing is illegal.
“I refuse to be subjected to arrest, harassment by police and
imprisonment because I am part of a culture that celebrates and
glorifies cannabis for people within our culture,” he said.
To prove Daktory members were being ‘harassed”, on January 2, Green
drove around the block from his home with a Daktory member filming
from the back seat. Green said his plan “worked beautifully” . In a
video, now posted on You Tube, and proudly shown to Sunday News,
Green is pulled over almost immediately by police. After showing
officers his licence he is soon let go – free of charge.
The stunt doesn’t mean Green is against new legislation making it
illegal for motorists to drive under the influence of drugs. Daktory
members are advised to have a sober drive and to rest between smoking
and driving. Members “farewell me with clear eyes”, Green said.
Earlier this week, before the raid, Green said he wasn’t surprised
the Daktory hadn’t been shutdown by authorities.
“It’s my house and I’ve been told by police in the past, ‘don’t smoke
in public, smoke in private and we will leave you alone’.”
Green’s issue with cannabis laws’ are that ordinary people are being
locked up for using a substance “scientifically proven to be less
dangerous than alcohol and cigarettes”. He said cannabis was part of
popular culture and “the fact that everybody is doing it is a damn
good reason to stop locking a few of us up”. Norml claims someone is
arrested on cannabis-related charges every 37 minutes in New Zealand,
some 15,000 annually. Green also wants to see the cannabis industry
“out of the hands of what are criminals by definition, and put in the
hands of the community where it can be properly controlled.”
He said at the moment the black-market cannabis trade was “out of
control”. The Daktory, Green said, was a “safe haven” for users and
ensured they weren’t put in danger while trying to buy cannabis.
Despite championing cannabis law reform, Green – who also pushed for
Saturday trading and in the 1980s ran a casino on a boat beyond
police jurisdiction – doesn’t advocate cannabis use. He was against
it until age 40.
“Cannabis is not for everyone. I don’t advocate to anyone to take it
up, but I do advocate that cannabis is not a dangerous product.”
“Very few over-indulge” in cannabis at the Daktory – it’s more
coffee-shop than nightclub in that respect, Green said.
Visitors to the Daktory – open Wednesday to Sunday – could expect to
see people: “Sitting around enjoying a quiet chat and a quiet toke,
perhaps listening to the music, and generally relaxing. It’s a very
laxed out place,” Green explained, quick to dispel beliefs it was a
The Daktory is a comfortable venue, like a recreation-centre. There
are dozens of couches, armchairs and coffee tables spread around an
Coffee is available – food is planned – and there’s a pool, fus and a
table tennis table plus a projector screen, a library – which
includes a copy of Shakespeare’ s complete works – and music.