SYDNEY CRIMINAL LAWYERS: “We Won the Battle But the War Continues”: Opera House Cannabis Activists Zammitt and Stolk on Their Day in Court

Aug 31, 2023

For almost a decade now, cannabis activists Alec Zammitt and Will Stolk have been brightening the Sydney scene with their elaborate protest actions that employ guerilla theatre tactics to agitate for the legalisation and regulation of cannabis in this country.

Part of the “Who Are We Hurting?” campaign, the pair were behind the publicity stunt that projected pro-weed imagery, such as dancing cannabis leaves, onto the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge on the 20 April last year, which is 4/20: the day the herb is celebrated globally.

Whilst the prank was frankly a crack up, New South Wales police officers raided the hotel suite where the pair were projecting the images from. And they were then charged with distributing advertising on Opera House premises, contrary to section 9(g) of the Sydney Opera House Trust By-Law 2021 (NSW).

And on Tuesday, the pair appeared at Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court, facing a charge that carries a $1,100 fine, and after much deliberation, Magistrate Daniel Reiss ruled the prosecution’s evidence inadmissible, and he gave them a two week extension to find some that actually sticks.

Legalise it. Don’t criticise it

Zammitt and Stolk have spent the last 16 months on bail for having a sense of humour, along with being passionate about the legalisation of the fairly innocuous plant and actively doing something interesting about it. A little over 10 percent of the entire nation regularly uses pot annually.

Right now, in NSW, an individual can be charged, at a police officer’s discretion, with personal possession and face up to 2 years inside, while in the ACT, it’s been legal to possess a personal amount of the drug and grow a couple of plants at home since 31 January 2020.

In the United States, the nation that propagated the “reefer madness” myth of the 1930s, 22 states and the capital have legalised cannabis use. And since the first retail sale in Colorado on 1 January 2014, it’s become a multibillion-dollar industry that channels millions in tax into the social sector.

The entire nations of Canada, Uruguay, Thailand and Malta have legalised the plant. And in the countries of Mexico and South Africa, the highest courts in the land ruled that criminalising the private adult use and homegrow of cannabis to be against basic rights and legalised the practice.