The Dangerous Drugs Act was passed in 1927, and rallies to get rid of the law were held on Saturday in Auckland, Wellington and Nelson.
Nelson rally organizer, Kelly Patchett said November 11 marked 90 years since the Dangerous Drugs Act was passed, making the use of cannabis illegal in New Zealand.
Patchett, along with a woman dressed as a green fairy, was handing out leaflets and booklets with information about the medicinal uses for cannabis.
It follows the recent prosecution of Rose Renton, who is known as a "green fairy", a term used to describe cannabis growers and suppliers who help patients on compassionate grounds.
Patchett said people like Renton "risked their lives" and freedom, and it was time for the government to move quickly as 90 years' prohibition was enough.
"We know the government is willing to make changes, it's just not making them fast enough," she said.
The new government has signalled it will hold a referendum on the issue, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she wants to take advice before that happens.
Patchett said the referendum couldn't come soon enough for those suffering from chronic pain.
"Many of the patients who use cannabis have been through the pharmaceuticals process, so they're not just saying 'I don't want to use them, I want to use this'," she said.
Patchett had previously been on a large amount of strong opiates, using "uppers and downers" for chronic pain related to fibromyalgia. She said they didn't "touch the sides" of her pain and kept her as a "zombie".
"That was not a quality of life for myself or my children."
She said self-medicating with cannabis provided a way for patients to micro-dose, without getting stoned, through a capsule, balm or cookie.
"People just need to know how to use it. I think it's the mentality of 'everyone just smokes and that's why it's bad, because of the carcinogenics', but in actual fact the majority of people I know would prefer to use it in edibles and medicines."
She hoped by holding an awareness-raising event she could talk to people about why they made a big "hoo-ha" about it.
Unless people had lived with chronic pain, it was hard for them to understand.
"You talk to any patients, or any fairies, and it's a really emotional situation because they think we're just talking about a plant, but we're actually talking about people's lives."
She said they wanted to educate people ahead of a referendum, particularly regarding the compounds in cannabis and the importance of using the whole plant.
People are still being prosecuted for treating themselves with a plant that stops them from dying and that's the wrongness because the only other options are pharmaceuticals.
Auckland rally organiser Chris Fowlie says countries that have legalised the drug don't have the same synthetic abuse problems that New Zealand has.
"When you ban things you push it underground and make it more dangerous," he told Newshub.
"You can see that not only with synthetics, but natural cannabis itself where you have medical users who are forced to go to gang-run tinny shops to get their cannabis."
The death of a Hutt Valley man last week may be linked to synthetic drug use, with police making multiple seizes and arrests in the area.
"If we want to make it safer for people… you have to regulate it," said Mr Fowlie.
The Government will hold a referendum to legalise personal use of cannabis by the 2020 election.
"We have a new Government and a new way of thinking, and we are really looking forward to medical cannabis being legalised and for the country having a really good discussion over the next couple of years," said Mr Fowlie.
Synthetic drugs can be up to 50 times stronger than natural cannabis, experts say, with the average product on offer around 10 to 15 times stronger.
"Even a single smoke of synthetic is the equivalent of up to 15 normal joints. This is why the effect is so very different and so very dangerous," says Wellington Hospital emergency medicine specialist Dr Paul Quigley.
- stuff.co.nz - newshub.co.nz