Cancer patients, pensioners, mums & students to risk arrest by smoking in park

***** MEDIA RELEASE *****

01 APRIL 2016



Cancer patients, pensioners, mothers, students and everyday Australians will again put their liberty on the line on Saturday, April 9 when they gather at Victoria Park on the edge of Sydney’s CBD to hold a Free Cannabis picnic. Chilled tunes, a family-friendly vibe, guest speakers, and the possibility of cannabis smoke in the air is expected to draw hundreds of people.

The inaugural Free Cannabis NSW picnic held earlier this year (January 9) drew more than 100 people for what was believed to be the first public group smoking of cannabis in Sydney for decades.

Activists & police at the January picnic
Activists & police at the January picnic

Having previously not faced such civil and peaceful disobedience from cannabis users for many years, NSW Police deployed more than 30 officers for the event as well as setting up sniffer dog teams at every nearby inner-city train station.

Despite the heavy police presence on the day, police were essentially powerless to prevent scores of people from enjoying their favourite medicinal or recreational substance, particularly at the traditional ‘stoner’ time of 4.20pm.

To prove an outdated point however, NSW Police did arrest and charge two men on the day with the possession and use of cannabis, after spotting the men with half-smoked joints.

One of the men charged on the day – Paul Lawrence – is fighting terminal cancer and has the tumors to show for it. He was eventually charged with the possession of less than a gram of cannabis, including the weight of the tobacco that was used to mix the joint. Mr Lawrence will again be present at the upcoming Free Cannabis NSW picnic on April 9.

Cancer sufferer Paul Lawrence who was arrested at the last picnic
Cancer sufferer Paul Lawrence who was arrested at the January picnic

“I will again be attending the free cannabis picnic in Sydney despite my arrest,” Mr Lawrence says.

“Only a sick state and a sick government and police force would arrest and charge an ill man like me. The prohibition of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use does far more damage to society than someone like me having a quiet smoke with friends.”

Mr Lawrence suffers from recurrent chordoma, which causes spinal tumors. He also has significant pain as a result of world-first surgery to remove three vertebrae.

The charges were brought about despite discretionary powers that NSW Police have that allow them to simply hand out a caution for the use or possession of cannabis (under the weight of 14 grams).

Free Cannabis NSW picnic organiser, Chris Hindi, says the tide on cannabis is turning with many other countries and several states in the USA relaxing their laws to even include the lawful sale and taxing of recreational cannabis use.

“Come stand up for your rights, by sitting down and having a peaceful smoke with us on April 9,” Mr Hindi says.

The crowds just before the 4.20 smoke-off at the January picnic
The crowds just before the 4.20 smoke-off at the January picnic

“Archaic laws will only change if good people who smoke cannabis get out of the closet. There are up to 2 million people in Australia who use cannabis regularly so we believe there is no reason to feel ashamed about it. We ask that everybody who has had enough of the ‘War on Drugs’ to come along and show their support.”

One of the guest speakers at the picnic will be famed cannabis advocate, Andrew ‘Dr Pot’ Katelaris, who risked his career in medicine to help spread knowledge to the public about the many benefits of cannabis.

“Cannabis is basically one of nature’s ‘wonder drugs’ and is safer and more beneficial to most people than similar substances created by the pharmaceutical industry,” Dr Katelaris says.

“Cannabis has been widely documented across human history and a plethora of cultures have made use of its healing benefits, something which is coming back into vogue with serious considerations being made as we speak of setting up an Australian medicinal marijuana market. But we need to do more.”


Victoria Park, Camperdown (Sydney)
From Midday to 4.20pm
Facebook Event Page:


Serkan OzturkFounder & Media Consultant, PR For The People
Mobile: +61 415 360 311


Will Tregoning from Unharm at January Cannabis Picnic director Will Tregoning at the January picnic