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J Day ’09 Sat 2 May

Inside the Cannabis Cup Kiwiseeds Best Indica

Growing Great buds

Judging Great hash

Wellington Drug law symposium

Coffeeshop crackdown

Synthetic cannabinoids Legally high

& more

Special report

is cannabis anti-cancer?

Drug testing flawed: Pot smokers safer! Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S


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N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

NORML NeWS Vol 12 Issue 4: Autumn 2009

ISSN: 1172-9074




PO Box 3307, Auckland, NZ. Phone: 09 302-5255 Fax: 09 303-1309 Email: Website: Editor & design: Chris Fowlie Contributors: Harry Cording, Jonathan Rennie, Phil

Saxby, Brandon Hutchison, Metiria Turei, Louis Coyle, Brian Borland, J’nette Saxby, the Bush Doctor and assorted rogues, rascals and recidivist recruits. Want to contribute? Send us your ideas, letters, photos, cartoons, comments, grow tips or tasty buds to sample... include a SAE if you would like anything returned. Thanks to our advertisers, contributors, distributors, IACM and for hosting our website. Advertising: 09 302 5255 or Printer: APN


Contents NEWS

J Day is coming: Sat 2nd May Synthetic cannabinoids on sale By Chris Fowlie The story of the Daktory By Harry Cording Police push failed ideas by Brandon Hutchison

5 6 8 10


Distribution: IMD ph 09 527 0500 Mailed free to NORML members (join on p49) and available while stocks last at selected outlets including: WHANGAREI Pied Piper, Switched On Gardener SILVERDALE The Grow & Brew Shop DARGAVILLE B_Arch Wear AUCKLAND Cosmic Corner, Easy Grow, Erox, The Hempstore, Now & Then, Pipe Dreams, Real Groovy, Switched On Gardener HAMILTON Frankton Pipe Shop, Greens Office, Needle Exchange, Rota, Tasman Haze by Kiwiseeds, 2nd Switched On Gardener OTOROHANGA place Sativa in the 2007 Cannabis Cup Neveraes THAMES Boot’s N All, Crystal Ball Clinic, This Time Around TAURANGA Curiosity, NZPC, Switched On Gardener MT MAUNGANUI Antipodes, Nemms TE PUKE Wild Thingz ROTORUA Skingraft, Wild Thingz GISBORNE Cultural Experience NAPIER Earthsong HASTINGS Switched On Gardener TAUPO Switched On Gardener TE AWAMUTU Groovee Thingz NEW PLYMOUTH Guru Gardener, Mindfuel, Net, Stardust Creations, Trick or Treat WANGANUI Discount Smoke Shop, Drugs & Health Development Project, Stardust Creations PALMERSTON NORTH IV Union, Lotz of Pots WELLINGTON Comrades, Cosmic Corner, Real Groovy, San Jewellery, Switched On Gardener LOWER HUTT Devine, House of Hydro, Lo Cost Records, Stardust Creations PORIRUA Stardust Creations NELSON Gizmo’s, Switched On Gardener MOTUEKA Kowhai, Flurmo TAKAKA Invisible BLENHEIM Boots ‘n’ All RANGIORA Rock Shop CHRISTCHURCH Alice in Videoland, Avon Backpackers, Central Surf, Cosmic Corner, Embassy, Globe Cafe, Java Coffee House, Radar Records, Switched On Gardener GREYMOUTH Planet Funk QUEENSTOWN Play It Again WANAKA Play It Again TIMARU Dizzy Spell DUNEDIN Community Law Centre, Cosmic Corner, DIVO, Funk That!, Hemphatic, Modaks, Tangente, Radio One, Switched On Gardener INVERCARGILL Large As Life, Play It Again.

on the cover:

Disclaimer: Content within Norml News is distributed for “fair use” research, review, education and information purposes. The views expressed in Norml News may or may not be the opinion of Norml News , NORML New Zealand Inc, our advertisers distributors or printers. Norml News is provided with no warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied. The publisher assumes no responsibility for and disclaims all liability for any inaccuracies, errors or omissions. Norml News and the publisher are not responsible for the content of advertising contained within. Publication of an advertisement does not imply our endorsement of any particular product or claims made by any advertiser.


Drug law review by Phil Saxby Cannabis and Cancer By Jonathan Rennie Amsterdam & the Cannabis Cup By Chris Fowlie Kiwiseeds interview By Chris Fowlie Drug testing fraud By Chris Fowlie


Medicinal Cannabis research with Chris Fowlie World News with Harry Cording Bush Doc building your own grow room Safer cannabis use - NORML’s harm reduction advice Know your rights and lawyers list Activist Corner - how you can help change the law NORML membership form & shop Join our campaign! Show your grow pics from this season’s crop

20 24 28 36 46 12 16 40 45 47 48 49 50

ABOUT NORML NEW ZEALAND INC. The National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) was formed in New Zealand in 1979. NORML is a nonprofit organisation that campaigns to end marijuana prohibition. Our aims are: • To reform New Zealand’s marijuana laws

• To provide neutral, unbiased information about cannabis • To engage in political action appropriate to our aims • To inform people of their rights • To give advice and support to victims of prohibition Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S 3


John Key wants your DNA. He wants to crackdown on “druggies and gangs”. He’s appointed Peter Dunne in charge of drug policy. New Zealand still has the highest rate of cannabis arrests in the world, with someone busted every 34 minutes. Arresting these otherwise law-abiding and productive citizens causes immense harm, doesn’t deter use, and is a big waste of money. Countries around the world are rejecting failed prohibitionist policies. With the UN and Law Commission reviews, we have a golden opportunity to regulate and tax the marijuana industry - as California is considering doing. It would bring in hundreds of millions of muchneeded tax dollars, and in these dire economic times any source of tax revenue should be considered, especially if it is sustainable and brings in more tourists. Legalising marijuana could save our budget deficits. Think about it, Mr Key!

White Rhino

PHOTOs: SOG, chris

PHOTO: Chris

No wonder we’re paranoid.

upcoming J Day pot protest International J Day is the first Saturday in May, in over 200 cities around the world. This year it’s on Saturday 2nd May. J Day is a global celebration of the cannabis culture and protest against prohibition. This year it takes on even more importance, with UN anti-drug conventions up for review, and New Zealand reconsidering our drug laws. See our website for more details. Please contact us if you can help organise things, or help out on the day.

Heretics Day lecture


Can God be found through drugs? Can life be enjoyed without alcohol? These heretical possibilities will be explored in the 7th annual All Heretics Day Lecture, “Drugs and the Meaning of Life” with Dr. Doug Sellman, director of the National Addiction Centre (NAC)

Thanks, Switched On

Prize giveaway!

Here’s Lou Gestro, national operations manager of Switched On Gardener, presenting me with a big cheque from their sales of Norml News magazine. Every issue sold helps our law reform efforts, and Switched On have sold more than anyone else. We really appreciate it so a big thanks to them and to their customers. Donations were also received from The Hempstore in Auckland and Adult Selection in Napier. Keep it coming...!

The Wackness is a new movie from Jonathan Levine, set the summer of 1994 where the streets of New York are pulsing with hip hop and wafting with the sweet aroma of marijuana. It won the audience award at Sundance, and High Times recently gave it a ‘Stoney’ award for best movie. We’ve got FIVE double passes up for grabs. Just email before March 26 with your best idea for how we’re gonna get marijuana legalised (in one sentence only!). We’ll choose the best five ideas. The Wackness is in cinemas from March 12, rated R18 (drug use).


N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

and member of the government’s Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs. The word heresy comes from the Greek word “hairetos” meaning “to choose”. Heretics Day is about celebrating the right to choose. 7pm Sunday April 5. Rolleston Theatre, Christchurch. Presented by the Unitarian Universalists of Christchurch (

Drug law review The Law Commission is an independent non-political body that is charged with reviewing laws that are not working. Drug prohibition certainly fits that criteria, so we are confident that the review, now underway, should produce a positive outcome. Every governmentlevel inquiry that has ever been held into drug laws has recommended ending prohibition. For more see page 20.


Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S


NZ law reform



P rof.

u f fa l o t

Q: How do vaporisers work? Shane, Hastings. A: The active ingredients in marijuana are in resin produced by trichome glands that are on the exterior of the plants. This means that unlike tobacco, we don’t have to smoke the plant to get the effect. Simply heating it to about 180C will cause the resin glands (the misnamed ‘crystals’) to evaporate. Vaporisers these days are mostly passive hot air designs, which means they heat air and this is drawn through finely ground up pot. Older models used hotplates but these tend to burn the herb. If you don’t want to buy a vap, it’s easy to improvise with other heat sources, such as spotting with cooler knives, or using lightbulbs or car cigarette lighters.


Q: Help, I’ve stopped dreaming! Lisa, Manukau. A: No you haven’t, but you may have stopped remembering your dreams. T r y not consu m i ng pot before bedtime. Anandamide, the brain’s own version of THC, is involved with the extinguishing of unneeded memories, and might be why you’re not remembering your dreams. You could also take supplements of melatonin or try the natural herb mugwort, which is said to increase vivid dreaming. Q: How do I make my home grown buds taste the best? Eddie, Nelson. A: A lot of the flavour comes from genetics, but the main thing is slow dried marijuana tastes smoother and sweeter. Stop fertilising one or two weeks prior to harvest. Drying should use moving, cool air (around 10-15C) and take 2-3 weeks. After manicuring, store marijuana in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator. You can even add a small piece of lemon peel to impart a citrus aroma.

Got a marijuana question? Ask Prof Puffalot:


N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009


A new service for readers to ask that burning question.

A lump of JWH-018. It is resinous and sticky, like THC, but more crumbly

Synthetic cannabinoids in herbal incense not controlled by law Synthetic cannabinoids designed to research the health effects and medical applications of cannabis are being sold as legal highs. Brands such as Spice, Dream, Aroma, Space and possibly others have the cannabinoids, which have cannabislike effects but are usually not listed on the packets. Spice comes in several varieties and has been sold in New Zealand, Europe and Canada since 2002, while other brands have appeared more recently. The active ingredients are sprayed onto a base of herbs such as baybean, blue lotus, scullcap and lion’s tail. The products are often labelled as “incense” but are typically smoked. Anecdotal reports suggest they can also be used in a vaporiser. Last year authorities in Germany asked a company called THC Pharm, which extracts natural cannabinoids and other psychoactive ingredients from plants, to find the active ingredient in Spice. In December they announced they has isolated a “cannabimimetic” called JWH-018. Then on 19 January 2009, the University of Freiburg in Germany announced that the other main active substance in Spice is related to a synthetic cannabinoid called CP 47,497. Different ratios of the two cannabinoids have apparently been used in the different varieties of Spice. US Customs was reported to have seized 100 pounds of Spice containing another potent synthetic cannabinoid called HU210, but this has not been confirmed.

The synthetic cannabinoids activate cannabinoid receptors, causing similar effects to THC. More than one hundred synthetic cannabinoids already have been designed, many by researchers wanting to investigate the medicinal appl ic ation s or he a lth ef fects of cannabis, but who were stymied by anticannabis attitudes and overly restrictive government policies. The irony is that these chemicals have crossed over onto the legal high market, also as a way of getting around cannabis prohibition. The synthetic cannabinoids in Spice do not resemble illegal cannabinoids, and therefore are not subject to laws restricting drug analogues. Analogues must have similar molecular structures, and this is not the case. Germany and Austria quickly banned Spice, but the products remain legal elsewhere. The problem for authorities is that because many more cannabinoids can be easily synthesized, the detected substances could easily be replaced by similar substances. Or maybe they could just let us smoke pot! See Sources: CBP, AP.

Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S


NZ law reform

The story of the Daktory


eaders who have followed the adventures of Maryjane the Cannabus may recall that she has a new home - the Daktory in West Auckland. Although not officially a part of NORML, the Daktory was established as a club for friends and supporters of Maryjane, and a space where members of the cannabis culture can get together and enjoy all aspects of their favourite plant. The club was launched on November 19, and by Christmas it had about 500 members. It continued to grow at a mindboggling rate, reaching over 1500 members by late January. The numbers became too great for the infrastructure of the club and the crew who were running it to cope with.

Unfortunately, a couple of people who had volunteered to help run the club proved to be untrustworthy. In addition to physically and verbally abusing other members, they even stole equipment and most of the club savings. Besides having its otherwise totally cool vibe poisoned, the Daktory was stripped of its liquid assets. The only option was to close temporarily, analyse what went wrong and reopen the Daktory on a different basis. New rules and systems will be in place to make sure that the early mistakes are not repeated when Daktory reopens in April. The concept of a cannabis club is an idea whose time has come - as demonstrated by the number of people who joined. Now it needs to be determined how to make it work both as a service to members and as an effective force for law reform. Maryjane continues to make regular Queen St appearances. By the time you read this, Dakta Green and Dakta Fooz will have completed a year-long tour of New Zealand. From Cape Reinga to Bluff, from New Plymouth to Gisborne and Westport to Christchurch, north, south, east and west – from every part of New Zealand to Parliament - Maryjane has represented you. Those who were current Daktory members at the time it closed, and those who are interested in joining when it reopens, can email and you will be kept informed of developments as they occur. Thanks to all who have supported the Daktory. We look forward to your continued support. For more info see or

Every Saturday afternoon since late January a high profile station wagon has been parked near the Henderson police station for a public “420” protest, for an hour from 3:30pm. With its LEGALISE CANNABIS sign on the roof and CANNABIS IS NOT A CRIME, CANNABIS LAWS UNFAIR UNJUST in big red letters along the sides, a big green leaf and Freedom is NORML on the front, it’s impossible to miss. The car belongs to Brian Borland, a veteran cannabis activist who took part in the Cannabus tour to Dunsterdam last year. He is taking civil disobedience against the cannabis laws to places where it can’t be ignored. He has found a source of people willing to join - Henderson’s periodic detention and community work centre. As many of those doing community work are there because of the cannabis laws, there has been no shortage of volunteers to help smoke joints.


N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

The first protest was held at Henderson Police Station (right), where Brian presented a letter to Henderson police that said “Public smoking of cannabis will take place during the protest to highlight the injustice of the present law.” It also asked police to exercise their discretionary powers to turn a blind eye to cannabis incidents “for the benefit of all concerned.” There were no arrests, no searches, no invoking the Misuse of Drugs Act - and the protests have continued ever since. Brian has also made it his mission to deliver cannabis plants to those who he says may need them - like prime minister John Key, and TV3’s John Campbell. He got a frosty reception at John Key’s electorate office in Helensville, where the receptionist chased him out of the office


Civil disobedience out West

and kicked over the plants he had left on the terrace. Brian is prepared to keep his protests going for as long as it takes to change the law. “I do what I do because I would like to make an honest living, paying tax and GST, from cultivating and selling cannabis. To this end I have recently registered my company, Roaring Lion Cannabis Shoppe. The law is wrong and I am right,“ he says. “End of story.”

Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S


NZ law reform

Police push failed ideas in ‘new’ cannabis report


raises the suggestion that skunk (high THC cannabis) be treated as a different or “hard” drug, favours the repressive Swedish drug control model, and calls for a New Zealand specific national cannabis strategy or action plan. The document is poorly referenced with many of its assertions either lacking supporting references, or are just opinions from wellresourced polemicists such Will the Police come knocking at your door? as UN Drug Czar Antonio Photos: Tatty Rasta / Tropic Haze Costa or Dr Ian Oliver, a intelligence work, betrays the apparent former UK cop who does limited reading by the police on the speaking engagements promoting drug matter of cannabis. prohibition. To set the tone, the 100-page report Of some concern are the reported begins with an attack on liberal policies, hospita l ad m ission s pu r por ted l y citing the recent changes to cannabis associated with cannabis. According scheduling in the UK as an example and to the report, approximately 58000 bedsuggesting that this was confusing and nights annually are due to cannabis! sent mixed messages. Admissions where the primary diagnosis The reform movement is acknowledged is cannabis-related are listed as mainly in the next paragraph with “Cannabis due to psychotic problems. The reform evokes emotive competing commentary movement has long acknowledged such from a globally connected pro-cannabis correlations (if you have psychotic lobby who conduct very focussed and symptoms, cannabis is not for you). The articulate campaigns to overturn drug more numerous secondary diagnoses laws and policies”. listed raise suspicions that these may be The report deals with mainly due to ‘mentions’ by the patient the local production and void of any causal relationship. and potency of The “New Cannabis” report contains cannabis, international little new information and is really conventions and drug just the opinion of its authors or the s c h e d u l i n g , N Z ’ s opinion of others that they quote as support the introduction of DutchNational Drug policy, fact. The authors seem unaware of the style cannabis cafes. Overseas t h e 2 0 0 3 H e a l t h significance of the drug policy debate, experience shows cannabis law s e l e c t c o m m i t t e e or the clear evidence that much of the changes have not been associated r e c o m m e n d a t i o n s , harm they are so concerned about is with increased use. which it claims to add actually caused by the very policies that Reasonable to, detailed statistics they enforce and seek to harden. The restrictions: as with on cannabis related vast global scholarly and grass-roots alcohol consumption, hospital admissions, movement calling for change is written cannabis use should more stats on cannabis off as emotive and causing confusion, be limited to adults. offenses and the Massey and the only change that is discussed Driving or operating U n i v e r s i t y S H O R E is more of the same but worse. Like its heavy machinery studies on cannabis stable-mate, the Drug Harm Index, this while impaired should remain use within NZ. report is a waste of taxpayer money and prohibited. T h e r e p o r t adds nothing to the debate. Journalists Harm minimisation: policies i n t e r c h a n g e s t h e and those concerned with policy who should discourage irresponsible t e r m s “ u s e ” a n d are seeking modern information on use, including use by adolescents. “abuse”, alleges that cannabis could no better than to instead Prevention is most effective where some countries have download the Beckley Foundation Global cannabis is viewed from a public “c ompr om i se d” U N Cannabis commission report. health perspective, instead of a conventions with criminal justice perspective. respect to cannabis, See

ol ic e w i l l som et i m e s claim that they don’t make the laws, they only enforce them. This is as it should be. It would be an abuse of their powers and ta xpayer provided resources to attempt to do otherwise in a democracy, writes Brandon Hutchison. Sadly, this is not always true, as police are easily able to sway public opinion in subtle ways and in effect cause law changes indirectly. Just before Christmas, Police released a National Drug Intelligence Bureau ( N DIB) report on Cannabis, titled “New Cannabis”, named presumably to emphasise the alleged prevalence of more potent varieties of pot. The DominionPost gave the report a sympathetic lead article and highlighted the report’s call for more drug “education” in primary schools, drew attention to hospital admissions purportedly related to cannabis use, and predicted the outcome of an ESR study into the THC content of cannabis. NDIB head, Det. Stuart Mills said the report provided the first big picture of cannabis’ harmful effects. This amazingly exaggerated statement, coming from one involved in police

NORML’s priorities for

Pot law reform Stop arresting cannabis users: the Government should immediately declare a moratorium on arresting those who choose to use cannabis. Allow medicinal use - let doctors decide, not police and politicians.

Decriminalisation: remove all penalties for the use, possession and growing of cannabis by adults and the non-profit transfer of small amounts. The draconian search provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act should be removed and criminal records for cannabis offences wiped. Regulation: a commercial market for marijuana will always exist. It is better to regulate that market than leave it to organised crime. We


N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009


Govt attacks your civil rights Protection of civil rights has not traditionally been the spearhead of the National Party’s policy platform but even so, their record over the last four sitting weeks has been shocking. Much of the legislation that has progressed under urgency and under the excuse of the 100 day plan has attacked many of your fundamental civil rights. The two worst have been the Three Strikes (Sentencing and Parole Amendment) bill and the DNA (Criminal Investigations Bodily Samples) bill. The Three Strikes bill is the result of a deal between National and Act. National only promised to support it to select committee, so it may not proceed any further. But it does signal a grievous shift in the criminal legal system resulting in life imprisonment without parole regardless of the circumstances of the crime. While not quite as outrageous as the US version on which it is based, it nonetheless strips from the judicial system the means to ensure the punishment fits the particular crime in question. Instead, it creates a perverse incentive for some serious offenders to commit the worst possible crime, given the sentence for the third serious offence is set. It is grossly expensive and will affect Maori and the young more than any other population group because of discrimination in the policing and the judicial system. The justification for the Bodily

Samples bill is frankly bizarre. This bill gives police the right to take a DNA sample on suspicion of an offence. You need not be arrested or convicted, you need only annoy the cops. Again, we can look forward to a vast database of the DNA of Maori and a fair chunk of the next generation. This is surveillance of the most insidious kind. The government is also progressing the Proceeds of Crimes bill which will enable ‘tainted’ property to be confiscated on only a civil burden of proof (on the balance of probabilities). This will let the government confiscate property without a conviction and requires them to meet only a very low threshold of proof. To top it all off, the Governments response to the Drug Foundation Symposium demonstrated a complete lack of rationality, let alone sense. Peter Dunne, the Government spokesperson on Drug Issues said in his speech to the conference: “... it is important that our legislation regarding the misuse of drugs is informed by expert evidence and draws on local and international best practice.” Which had followed this comment: “Let me make it very clear this morning: relaxing the current laws on cannabis is not on this Government’s agenda.” Common sense anyone?

Metiria Turei, MP Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S



Elderly man jailed for growing med-pot for terminally-ill wife


62-year-old beneficiary who grew a few cannabis plants to help his terminally ill wife has been jailed for six months.

Richard Gary Alp had been charged with cultivation and possession for supply. “Drug dealing is insidious and drug dealers go to jail,” Judge Thomas Ingram told the Tauranga District Court. The judge allowed Mr Alp’s adult son to plead leniency for his father. The son said in the six years his mother was critically ill and mostly bedridden, cannabis helped give her comfort and relief from pain. “He is not a bad person.” Dozens of studies have shown cannabis and it’s ingredients have powerful yet remarkably safe pain relieving

Cannabis reduces high blood pressure Researchers at the University of Nottingham, UK , have found the e ndoc a nn a binoid anandamide and a synthetic c a nn a binoid ( W I N 55, 212-2) reduced hypertension in rats. Administration of the cannabinoids was associated with an increased vasodilatation of arteries, but the cannabinoids did not decrease blood pressure in rats with normal blood pressure. THC found in herbal cannabis could be expected to act in the same way. Another new study, again on rats, showed anandamide protected the heart against damage caused by doxorubicin, a pharmaceutical drug used in the treatment of cancer. Yet a nothe r re ce nt s tud y, this time using mice, found the synthetic cannabinoid JWH-133 had a direct protective effect on heart cells. Source: Ho WS, et al. Br J Pharmacol 2009;156(1):94-104; Hydock DS, et al. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Jan 7; Montecucco F, et al. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2009 Jan 7.


N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

properties, without the side effects of conventional pharmaceuticals. Last year the Government approved the use of the UK-made cannabis extract Sativex for pain relief. Judge Ingram said he had considerable sympathy and was prepared to be merciful, cutting the term of imprisonment down to a fraction of what it would otherwise be. “But let’s get it clear: your dad’s a drug dealer and drug dealers go to jail.” Alp had prior cannabis convictions, he said, and home detention “sends entirely the wrong message”. Police had found two ziplock bags containing 37g of cannabis bud, which Alp said was for his own use. In a bin at the side of the house were some remains of old stripped cannabis plants, and 10 seedlings about 15cm high were in the vegetable patch. They found seven cannabis plants drying inside the garden shed, which they said weighed 1815g, and claimed

this would have had a street value of more than $10,000 if sold as tinnies. The Misuse of Drugs Act reverses the usual norms of justice if someone is charged with more than ten plants, placing the burden of proof on the defendant to prove they were not dealing. When it comes to grow ops, the word “sophisticated” seems to have magic powers in New Zealand courts, so police listed some of the more “sophisticated” aspects of Mr Alp’s home grow. He had boarded shut the garden shed, with access from a door hidden under a workbench in an adjoining shed. It was lined and had not one but two extractor fans, said police. They found “heat lamps”, power timers and - shock, horror - a thermostat. “It was a fairly sophisticated operation,” agreed the judge, in handing down a prison term longer than what other people get more serious crimes. Is this justice?

Report highlights marijuana’s role in moderating disease progression ‘Emerging Clinical Applications’ reviews nearly 200 studies on the therapeutic use of cannabis Clinical and preclinical research on the therapeutic use of cannabis indicates that cannabinoids may curb the progression of va r ious l i fe -th reaten i ng diseases – including multiple sclerosis, A lzheimer’s disease, and brain cancer, according to a n updated report published today by the NORML Foundation. Now in it’s 3rd edition, N O R M L’s r e v i s e d report, “Emerging Clinical A pplications for Cannabis & Cannabinoids: A R eview of the R ecent Scientific L iterature, 2000 – 2009,” reviews nearly 200 scientific trials assessing the therapeutic utility of cannabinoids for the treatment of n i nete en cl i n ic a l i nd ic at ion s: Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), chronic pain,

diabetes mellitus, dystonia, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, gliomas, hepatitis C, human immunodeficiency v i r u s ( H I V ), h y per ten sion , incontinence, methicillinresistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA), multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, pruritus, rheumatoid arthritis, sleep apnea, and Tourette’s syndrome. US NOR M L Deput y Director Paul Armentano, who authored the report, said: “With this report in their hands, patients can now begin talking openly with their physicians about whether cannabis therapy is appropriate for them.” The full report is now available for download at: and hard copies will soon be available for online purchase.


Food intake Consumers of marijuana typically feel a compulsive desire to consume food, which can help people wasting from cancer treatment, HIV or appetite disorders. Scientists are closer to learning why. Although past research showed the CB1 cannabinoid receptor is a potent regulator of food intake, CB2 cannabinoid receptors were thought to be absent from the brain and expressed primarily in immune cells. Researchers have now shown substances that bind to the cannabinoid-2 receptor in the brain play a role in food consumption. Source: Onaivi ES, et al. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2008;1139:426-33




Cannabinoids regulate emotional balance - study Naturally occurring chemicals in the human body that mimic the effects of plant cannabinoids moderate human emotions and control anxiety, according to findings published in the Spanish scientific journal Revista de Neurologica.

Investigators at Complutense University in Madrid report that manipulating the body’s cannabinoid system may one day be a course of treatment in the management of certain emotional disorders. Researchers said the “abundant expression” of cannabinoid receptors within brain areas particularly involved in emotional control, such

as the amygdala, hippocampus and cortex, pointed to “the participation of the endocannabinoid system in the regulation of anxiety states.” “Present data reinforce the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in the control of emotional homeostasis and further suggest the pharmacological manipulation of the endocannabinoid system [is] a potential therapeutic tool in the management of anxiety-related disorders,” authors concluded. Previous research on the endocannabinoid system indicates that endogenous cannabinoids moderate numerous biological functions, including appetite, blood pressure, reproduction, motor coordination, and bone mass. Marco EM, Viveros MP, Rev Neurol. 2009 Jan 1-15;48(1):20-6.

In a clinical study the efficacy and adverse effects of oral THC (dronabinol) were investigated in 13 patients with chronic pain who were unresponsive to conventional pharmaceutical treatment. The US- researchers concluded from their observations that “oral THC may be a valuable therapeutic option for selected patients with chronic non-malignant pain that are unresponsive to previous treatments.” In another study, scientists from the Universit y of Bonn, Germany, demonstrated that the CB2 receptor in immune system cellsc is involved in the development of neuropathic pain. They found the CB2 receptor was important for the modulation of the activation of glia cells in response to nerve injury. Source: Haroutiunian S, et al. J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother 2008;22(3):213-217; Racz I, et al. J Neurosci 2008;28(46):12125-35

Multiple sclerosis A group of Spanish scientists investigated the effects of a synthetic cannabinoid (WIN55,212-2) on an animal model of multiple sclerosis. They found the cannabinoid significantly inhibited brain adhesion molecules, which regulate the migration of white blood cells across the blood-brain barrier in multiple sclerosis. Researchers said this may explain the anti-inflammatory effect of THC in multiple sclerosis. Source: Mestre L, et al. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2008 Nov 19

the latest research is at Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S


MEDiCiNAL CANNABiS Most Kiwis like to keep it pure, but in many countries overseas people mix their cannabis with tobacco. This could be the reason. According to new research from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, mixing cannabis with tobacco increased the amount of THC inhaled per gram of cannabis from an average of 33 mg/g for a pure joint to 59 mg/g for a spliff containing 25 per cent cannabis and 75 per cent tobacco. However smoking spliffs can often turn pot smokers into nicotine addicts, and is not something Norml News recommends. Tobacco is deadly and addictive and it’s not worth smoking it just to get a little bit THC. Another recent study found people who start cannabis use early are at increased risk for nicotine dependence, but this risk was attributable largely to common genetic risk factors. “There is no evidence for a causal relationship between cannabis use and nicotine dependence,” they wrote. Source: Van der Kooy F, et al. Inhal Toxicol. 2008 Oct 14:1; Agrawal A, et al. Addiction 2008;103(11):1896-904

Wake & bake According to animal research a nonp s yc h o a c t i ve c a n n a b i n o i d c a l l e d cannabidiol (CBD) is a wake-inducing compound that activates nerve cells in wake-inducing brain areas. CBD is found in all strains of cannabis with indicas tending to have more than sativas. The finding may help explain why indica strains are often said to be sedative while sativas are often described as uplifting. Brazillian scientists recently investigated how cannabidiol (CBD) exerts its effects. They found CBD reduced heart rate and anxiety in rats, but a substance that blocked the serotonin receptor 5-HT(1A) stopped these effects. The authors concluded that “CBD can attenuate acute autonomic responses to stress and its delayed emotional consequences by facilitating 5-HT(1A) receptor-mediated neurotransmission.” Source: Murillo-Rodríguez E, et al. Behav Neurosci 2008;122(6):1378-82; Resstel LB, et al. Br J Pharmacol 2009;156(1):181-8

the latest research is at


N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

German patients to get Dutch medi-weed from their pharmacy


he fi rst patients i n Germany have begun receiving herbal medicinal cannabis from pharmacies imported from Holland.

The three strains of high-potency cannabis, pictured at right, are grown for the Netherlands medicinal cannabis programme and have been available in Dutch pharmacies for some time. Bedrocan has a THC content of 18 per cent and the nonpsycho-active Cannabidiol (CBD) of 0.8 per cent, Bedrobinol has a THC-level of around 13 per cent and it’s CBD-level is 0.2 per cent. Bediol has a somewhat lower THC-level of about 6 per cent and a relatively high percentage of CBD (about 7.5%). All are guaranteed free of pesticides and heavy metals and purged of any micro organisms. They are supplied in packages of 5 grams. Patients will pay about 15 Euros (about NZ$30) per gram, about twice the price Dutch patients have to pay in their pharmacies. The patients suffer from chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, Tourette syndrome and other severe diseases, but use of the cannabis plant as a medicine is not legal in Germany. The head of the Federal Opium Office at the Federal Institute for Pha rmaceutica ls a nd Medica l Products (BfArM) in Bonn, Dr. Winfried Kleinert, said seven patients have so far been granted special permission from the Federal Ministry of Health to use herbal cannabis imported from the Netherlands, while a further 27 patients


Tobacco and THC

have permission to use an extract produced from it. T he application process is ver y complex, being based on the advice of several doctors who must establish that no other treatment would help. A recent expert opinion from Drs. Lorenz Boellinger, professor of law at the University of Bremen, and Harald Hans Koerner, senior public prosecutor from Frankfurt and well-known commentator of the German narcotics law, argued that the application procedure should be changed to do justice for patients and allow an adequate alleviation of their conditions. The Dutch medicinal cannabis will be exclusively distributed in Germany by a company called Fagron Germany, a unit of Belgian medical wholesaler A rseus. Fag ron Nederland has NZ Greens’ Medicinal Cannabis Bill been responsible for would legalise the medicinal use of cannabis for the distribution of medicinal cannabis patients who have the approval of their doctor. The to Dutch pharmacies bill covers any condition “where the use of cannabis since 2003. may alleviate the pain and suffering associated with

that condition or the treatment of that condition”. Registered patients would be able to grow their own. If they are unable to, they could nominate a friend or caregiver to do it for them. A private member’s bill in the name of Green MP Metiria Turei, it has not yet been voted on in parliament. For more info see

Sources: Reuters 8 December 2008; expert opinion by Prof. Boellinger and Dr. Harald Hans Koerner (at www.;;


Dutch Appeal Court says possession of five plants should not be prosecuted


Dutch appeal court has ruled that people with five cannabis plants in their home will not be prosecuted, no matter how much cannabis the plants produce. Dutch police have for years maintained a policy of not considering five plants at home an offence, because they can be seen as ornamental plants or for personal use of cannabis and not for commercial cultivation. However the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) did not think the policy was relevant in this case because 6712 grams of cannabis was found in the home of the suspects, a couple from Uden. They weren’t seeking jail however - just a fine of about 350

euros (NZ$700). As well as the five-plant limit, the Dutch policy of toleration also says that a person may not have more than 30 grams of cannabis at home. But according to the appeal court, the law does not limit the size of the harvest from the five tolerated cannabis plants. A citizen can therefore rely on the possession of five plants not leading to prosecution, as a lower court had already ruled. Prosecutors say they were primarily seeking guidance from the courts on how to interpret the policy of tolerance, and were now considering an appeal to the Supreme Court. Source:


Kidney function A new study has shown cannabidiol reduced kidney damage caused by cisplatin, which is used in chemotherapies against cancer. CBD reduced oxidative stress, inflammation and cell death in the kidney, and improved renal function. Researchers concluded that “cannabidiol may represent a promising new protec tive str ateg y against cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity.” Source: Pan H, et al. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2008 Dec 12

Repair liver damage Israeli scientists investigated the effects of several cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptor antagonists on liver damage. The endocannabinoid 2-AG, a CB2 agonist and CB1 antagonist, improved liver function compared to controls. The researches concluded these therapeutic effects were mediated either by CB2 receptors and/or vanilloid receptors. In another study, from the University of Bologna, a synthetic cannabinoid named Rimonabrant significantly delayed the development of ascites in rats with liver cirrhosis. Source: Avraham Y, et al. Am J Gastroenterol 2008;103(12):3047-56; Croci T, et al. Gastroenterology. 2009 Jan 14


Mental illness

Restrictive Govt medical cannabis program ruled unconstitutional by courts


he Supreme Court of British Columbia has endorsed a recent federal court decision saying the national cannabis program is unconstitutional. Justice Marvyn Koenigsberg gave the federal government a year to fix the medicalcannabis access regulations so that cannabis clubs or producers can get together and run a common cannabisgrowing operation. At the moment, the federal government restricts any licensed grower to supplying only one licensed user and prohibits more than three growers from pooling resources. Both those restrictions are

unconstitutional, Koenigsberg said. The ruling was made in the case of Mathew Beren of Victoria, who was found guilty of illegally trafficking and producing cannabis. The judge gave him an absolute discharge and showed sympathy for his action. The lawyers of Mr. Beren argued he should not be convicted because he was providing a needed service, as the marijuana regulations imposed an unreasonable barrier to patients’ access to needed medication. Source:

Although few people who use cannabis develop mental illness, many people with mental illness use cannabis. New research from the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, found patients with schizophrenia are more likely to report using cannabis to fight boredom and to ease social contacts. Another Swiss study investigated the development of psychiatric disorders in adolescents with subclinical hallucinations. At a one-year follow up, over half the patients had a full remission. No effect of cannabis use was observed. Researchers concluded that “subclinical hallucinations occur across a wide range of mental states in adolescents and show high rates of remission.” Source: Schaub M, et al. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2008;42(12):1060-5; Simon AE, et al. Schizophr Res. 2009 Jan 21

the latest research is at Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S




Hope and change for US?


ope and change were two of Barack Obama’s favourite words in his election campaign. Now that he is president, can American potheads expect a better deal?

President Obama had already given hope to drug law reformers, saying he “would not have the Justice department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users.” Obama selected Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowski to be his new drug czar. Seattle was one of the first American cities to implement needle exchange programs. It also categorised marijuana arrests as the lowest law enforcement priority and implemented innovative overdose prevention strategies. The state of Washington, where Seattle is located, legalised medical marijuana 10 years ago. Before Kerlikowski’s appointment DEA officers raided four dispensaries in Los Angeles, but no raids have occurred since. On the other hand, Obama has offered the job of Surgeon General to Dr Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon who is known to be opposed to legalising cannabis for medical uses The Surgeon General is the leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the US government. During his campaign Obama publicly backtracked from previous comments supporting decriminalisation, and his Vice President Joe Biden helped create the position of drug czar. It’s still to early to tell, but it is promising that US officials have toned down their criticism of harm reduction and now say they support projects like needle exchanges. In medical cannabis developments, the US Supreme Court has confirmed


Obama on pot “The war on drugs has been an utter failure . ( W ) e ne ed to ret hink and decriminalize our marijuana laws.” - Barack Obama, January 2004 “I inhaled frequently, that was the point.” -November 2006 “I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It’s not a good use of our resources.” - August 2007 “When it comes to medical marijuana, my attitude is if it is an issue of doctors prescribing marijuana, I think that should be appropriate. Whether I want to use a whole lot of political capital on (this) issue; the likelihood of that being real high on my priority list is not likely.” - June 2008 Q: “Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?” A: “President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.” -Statement from, the official website of the Obama administration, December 15, 2008. The question finished first out of over 7,000 submitted public policy questions. a lower court ruling requiring police to return medical cannabis that they seize from a patient. “It’s now settled that state law enforcement officers cannot arrest medical marijuana patients or seize their medicine,” said a representative of Americans for Safe Access. However, the California Supreme Court has ruled that someone who supplies cannabis to a patient who has a doctor’s approval for it can be prosecuted for drug dealing. Advocates on both sides of the case agreed that the ruling would encourage Californians to obtain medical cannabis from

N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

patient co-operatives, which are authorised by state law, rather than from individual suppliers. The US state of New Mexico legalised medical cannabis in 2007, and there are now about 200 registered medical cannabis users in the state. Recently the New Mexico Department of Health finalised regulations for issuing identification cards for medical users, along with a production and distribution system. The new guidelines specify that qualified patients may possess up to six ounces (about 170 grams) of medical cannabis (or more if authorised by their

physician) and/or 16 plants (four mature, 12 immature). The department is accepting applications from nonprofit businesses that want to produce and distribute medical cannabis to certified patients in New Mexico. Qualified patients can also apply to produce medical cannabis for themselves. This appears to be a straightforward and workable system, which could easily be replicated in New Zealand. In November Michigan became the 13th US state to legalize the medical use of cannabis. Draft rules for its medical cannabis have met with controversy. They require medical cannabis to be kept in a locked cabinet and patients and caregivers must keep an inventory of their supplies. Government officials would be allowed to inspect inventories and prohibit medicating in public view, even on private property. The law approved by voters does not allow much interference from the state, except to establish a system of identification cards to medical cannabis patients and a list of diseases for eligibility. Sources: Associated Press; San Francisco Chronicle; New Mexico Department of Health; marijuana.html

WORLD wide weed

Growing support for US law reform A new poll shows fifty-eight percent of American west coast voters support regulating the sale of marijuana to adults in a manner similar to alcohol, and a California state lawmaker has just introduced a bill to do it. Tom Ammiano said the The Marijuana Control, regulation and education act (AB390) was a simple matter of fiscal common sense. After all, marijuana is the state’s No. 1 cash crop. The bill would “Remove all penalties under Cali medi-weed from a dispensary California law for the cultivation, transportation, sale, “taxed and legally regulated purchase, possession, and like alcohol and cigarettes.” use of marijuana, natural Responding to the poll, US THC and paraphernalia NORML Executive Director by persons over the age Allen St. Pierre said, “Public of 21,” “prohibit local and support for replacing the state law enforcement illicit marijuana market officials from enforcing with a legally regulated, federal marijuana laws” and controlled market similar establish a marijuana tax to alcohol, complete with of $50 an ounce, on top of age restrictions and quality whatever legal pot would cost controls, continues to grow, - probably less than half what and appears to have achieved it costs now. majority support on the Betty Yee, the chairwoman west coast – where many of the Board of Equalization, voters are already familiar said the bill was “a with the state-licensed use responsible measure on how and, in some cases, sale of to work out the regulatory medical cannabis.” He added, framework of the legalisation “As voters and legislators of marijuana.” The board’s continue to look for research indicated US$1.3 alternative ways to raise tax billion could flow into the revenue for public services state’s coffers from the and reduce law enforcement marijuana sales tax. costs in this troubled A national Zogby poll economy, we expect the of 1,053 likely voters public’s support for taxing commissioned by California and regulating cannabis to NORML and Oaksterdam continue to grow .” University showed a clear majority on the West Coast cfm?Group_ID=7806 and 44 percent nationally agreed cannabis should be

Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S


WORLD wide weed The Czech lower house of parliament has passed a law making possession of a small amount of cannabis a civil offence. The production and sale of drugs remain illegal. The measure is still to be debated by the upper house and signed by the president into law. Source: Ceske noviny 11 November 2008

Swiss referendum Swi s s vote r s h ave re j e c te d a referendum to legalise the cultivation and possession of cannabis, by 63.2% to 36.8%. While disappointing, local activists said the fact that some voters agreed “means there is room for hope and we will go on with fighting for our rights!” An amendment to the Swiss narcotics law was accepted by a broad majority of 68 per cent. Among other things it allows the medical use of dronabinol (THC) and provision of heroin to addicts. Source:

Mayors: legalise it A majority of Dutch mayors who have a coffee shop in their city support the legalisation of the entire cannabis production chain. They want to end the “backdoor” problem, where the sale of cannabis to adults is legal but commercial growing - and supplying coffeeshops - is not. 54 out of 88 Mayors supported the proposal. Source:

Emery extradition Canadians Marc Emery, Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams, collectively known as the BC3, are fighting extradition to the USA and possible life imprisonment. In March 2008 the Canadian Government decided to turn down a plea deal the USA and Marc Emery had arranged. The extradition hearing for the BC3 has now been rescheduled for June 1-5th, 2009. See the No Extradition forum at www. for more information.


N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

Phelp’s golden bong Drug law reform advocates are calling for a boycott of Kellogg’s products for dumping Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps after a picture of him with a bong was published in the British tabloid News of the World. The photo (below) shows Phelps with the bong at a party when he visited the University of South Carolina. There has been a lot of sympathy for Phelps, who has set Olympic records by winning eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics and a total of 14 in his career. In particular, Kellogg’s manufacturer of junk food breakfast cereals - is facing a backlash for its decision to drop their sponsorship of the champion swimmer. Online petitions are calling for a boycott of Kellogg’s products. NORML said it is not Michael Phelps who should be criticised, but the absurd and hypocritical laws that criminalise the behaviour of Phelps and tens of millions of other successful and productive people like him. Michael Phelps is in good company. Nearly one out of two Americans have admitted using marijuana - including the current and former two presidents - and four out of five young New Zealanders. “Whether or not the most decorated athlete in history chooses to unwind during his off time with a glass of wine or a puff of cannabis is really none of the government’s - or our - business,” said NORML NZ president Phil Saxby. In 2004, a few months after winning six gold and two bronze medals at the Athens Olympics, Phelps was arrested

for drunken driving at age 19. He pleaded guilty and Kellogg’s continued its sponsorship. “Kellogg’s had no problem signing up Phelps when he had a conviction for drunk-driving, something that could have killed another person. Rather than being castigated, Phelps should be congratulated for choosing to use a substance that is safer than beer.” Among Phelps’s sponsors, Kellogg’s stands alone in its harsh judgment so far. Others including Speedo, Omega and Visa, appear satisfied with Mr. Phelps’ public apology for “regrettable behavior” and “bad judgment,” and have retained their sponsorships. USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport, suspended Phelps from swimming competitively for three months. South Carolina sheriff Leon Lott declined to charge Phelps, citing lack of evidence, but defended his investigation. Lott said he seized the bong that was in the photo but couldn’t prove Phelps had smoked from it. Seven other party-goers were arrested. They will face possession of marijuana charges, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail or a $575 fine in South Carolina.

Military rule means Fiji is no place for a holiday Thinking about a holiday in Fiji? You may want to think again, in light of the way they treat the cannabis culture there. About a month after military commander Voreqe Bainimarama staged his December 2006 coup, a 19-year-old Fijian man, Sakiusa Rabaka, was beaten so badly by soldiers that he died a few days later. They said they caught him trying to buy cannabis. During those days, every soldier had a licence to bash up any civilian who even looked at them sideways. They would have got away with it except for his mother, Alanieta Rabaka, who went to the media and managed to get Helen Clark and John Howard to speak up on her behalf. Eight soldiers were eventually put on trial for Rabaka’s murder and the sexual torture of another young Fijian man. The soldiers, along with a police officer, were arrested as they were about to fly out of the country. Ironically, the military was trying to send them on United Nations peacekeeping duties. They were brought to trial in February, but a mistrial was declared and retrial ordered by High Court judge Daniel Gounder. The accused are police officer Patrick Nayacalagilagi and soldiers Talone Lua, Ulaiasi Radike, Etonia Nadura, Ratuinaisa Toutou, Joeli Lesavua, Ilaisa Kurimavua, Jona Nareki and Napolioni Naulia. Two of them play rugby for Fiji.


Czech change laws

The Shaman’s wooden bowl (lower left) and leather basket (lower right) contained psychoactive cannabis.

Cannabis found in ancient shaman’s tomb

PHOTOS: Xinjiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology


he oldest use of cannabis as a medicine or sacrament has been discovered in an ancient tomb in China. The tomb, approximately 2700 years old, contained 789 grams of bud, leaf and seeds buried beside a light-haired, blue-eyed man, likely a shaman of the Gushi culture, near Turpan in northwest China. Low temperatures, dry conditions and alkaline soil resulted in “remarkable” preservation of the remains. A multidisciplinary international team demonstrated through botanical, phytochemical and genetic analysis that the highTHC cannabis strain was probably cultivated for medicinal or divinatory purposes. Scientists attempted to grow 100 seeds in compost, but unfortunately no germination was observed. They said the cannabis retained a surprisingly green colour and displayed visible glandular trichomes, the “phytochemical factory” of the plant which manufactures cannabinoids and terpenoids. The cannabis had been pounded, with the wooden bowl used as a mortar. The seed size, colour, and shape suggested it was cultivated rather than merely gathered from wild plants. The considerable amount of cannabis (789 g) implied a pooled collection. Importantly, no male cannabis plant parts were evident, implying their exclusion or removal by human intervention, and there were no hemp artefacts. “To our knowledge, these investigations provide the oldest documentation of cannabis as a pharmacologically active agent,” said Dr Ethan Russo, the lead investigator. “While cultivation of hemp for fibre has been documented in Eastern China from a much earlier date, the current findings represent the most compelling physical evidence to date for the use of cannabis for its medicinal or mystical attributes.”

Source: Russo, E. et al. J Exp Bot. 2008;59(15):4171-82. Download from: and http://jxb.

Ancient amber trichomes and a ‘domesticated’ seed.

Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S



“National Experimentation” needed to beat drug problems, Symposium told


he Healthy Drug Law symposium held in Wellington (18-19 February 2009) was told that New Zealand was an ideal place for experimentation with different systems of drug control because of its small size, educated population and geographical remoteness. NORML president Phil Saxby was invited to attend the Symposium and heard that only by national experimentation was it likely the world would find better ways “through the maze” of existing prohibitions, particularly those being discussed in Vienna in this month.

UN reviews drug laws “Beyond 2008”

As a contribution toward the 10 year review of UN drug policy, nongovernment organisations from around the world have developed a declaration outlining their wishes for drug policy beyond 2008. A summit was held in Vienna of including support for harm last July and a consensus reduction are most EU and Latin document was produced calling American countries, Australia for more consideration of human and New Zealand. Opposed rights in drug policy, adoption of were the US, Russia, Japan and policies aimed at reducing harm, the Vatican, which even issued more input from those affected a statement claiming that using by drugs, more evaluation of drugs is “anti-life”. US officials policies, more emphasis on had been pushing hard for demand reduction as opposed anti-drug programs reminiscent to supply reduction. These of the zero-tolerance stand positions still accept the UN of George Bush but President prohibitionist framework but Obama appears to have changed despite that a small American America’s stance, including faction fought to have them endorsing needle exchange excluded. programmes. This month, the UN The New Zealand Government commission on narcotic drugs is will be represented by UF MP to meet to consider the next 10 Peter Dunne, notorious for years and will include the NGO attempting to shut down the declaration in its deliberations. drug policy debate here for In 1998, the declaration of the last 6 years. The NGO intent was “a drug-free world representation will be the NZ - we can do it”, which was Drug Foundation CEO, Ross completely unrealistic and did Bell. not address the complex nature One mind closed, one open. of drug treatment. In favour See 20

N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

involved invited representatives from a wide range of organisations including NORML. The symposium was held under Chatham House rules. There is actually only one rule, that comments made must not be attributed to any particular person if reported outside the meeting. However, many of the participants did speak publicly, before and after the conference. Early on, the symposium was treated to a comprehensive analysis of the world situation. Attempts to control drugs at the international level started 100 years ago, in 1909, but the history of international drug control is mostly one of containment, not of success in meeting such aims as controlling or eliminating the supply of illegal drugs. “Containment” means that less than 5% of the world’s adults use illegal drugs – but that amounts to 200 million people annually! 80% of these (160 million) are cannabis users. Too often overlooked are the “unintended consequences” of the various drug conventions and the attempt to enforce their provisions on supplying and trading illegal drugs: • making the possession of certain drugs illegal has created “an enormous black market” that reaches the level of “the corruption of whole states” • controls intended to deal with drug harms to individuals and communities have lost their public health focus and become dominated by enforcement issues • enforcement in one area or country tends to merely shift production into a neighbouring area or country, such is the demand (and profit to be made). • in addition to geographical displacement, enforcement activity on one substance can simply shift (displace) production into another substance • worse than all the above, an emphasis on


A large number of international speakers, including Dr Sandeep Chawla from the Geneva-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime, made this symposium the most important event of its kind ever held in New Zealand. With over 100 registrations, the symposium

Drug law review

enforcement leads to worse public health, not better, for those who are stigmatised and marginalised from society by drug use. There was wide agreement that the focus needs to shift towards public health, without denying there needs to be enforcement of any system of drug control. The problem in New Zealand and in most countries is that efforts to reduce use rates are assumed to reduce harm (quite a different thing in reality) and also that these efforts are assumed not to be harmful in themselves. Policy makers, journalists and others need to distinguish between the harm to individuals and societies caused by the misuse of drugs, and harms caused by drug policies! They should not all be lumped together as “drug harm”. At a time when New Zealand’s Law Commission is reviewing the Misuse of Drugs Act, it was encouraging to hear that “national experimentation” may be the only way to achieve a system of drug control that does what was originally intended – improve public health. Even more encouraging was the hint that going outside the boundaries of the international Conventions on drugs might be necessary to achieve this goal! It was pointed out that states can withdraw from international treaties and re-apply to join but with specified reservations; actions of this kind are more common than is generally realised. Drug law reform may not be a priority for the new National government, but perhaps it deserves serious attention given that our under-21s have the highest use rates of cannabis of any country in the world. Speaker after speaker at the symposium recounted the difficulties of achieving any reform, however soundly based on the evidence, in Australia, the United Kingdom and the USA. Yet, all those countries have experimented with various new systems in the last decade. Perhaps its time for some “National experimentation” to find a drug policy that actually works in this country? Its essential for any reform to have a well-researched plan and public support for the objectives (see next story for

Beckley Report: States should have control In October 2008 the Beckley Foundation launched its Global Cannabis Commission Report, a comprehensive overview of the latest evidence on cannabis and its regulation, at a seminar at the House of Lords. The Beckley Foundation aims to promote objective debate on the effectiveness, direction and content of drug policies at national and international level. Their report says that rates of cannabis use vary over time and between countries but “these variations do not seem to be affected much by the probability of arrest or penalties for use or sale, however draconian. The widespread pattern of cannabis use indicates that many people gain

my report on the Law Commission and what NORML needs to do in the coming months). One such plan was mentioned several times by conference speakers: the Beckley Commission report released in 2008 (see box above). Conference speakers noted the increased international acceptance that human rights are being violated by draconian drug policies in many countries, and that drug users must not be seen as forfeiting their basic human rights. New Zealand will be represented by Peter Dunne, and its important he gives strong support to this principle at the WHO meeting in March (despite his resistance to any change in the NZ cannabis laws).

Debate warming up

One of the objectives of the conference

pleasure and therapeutic or other benefits from use.” They also say that “control regimes that criminalize users are intrusive on privacy, socially divisive and expensive.” Among their key recommendations: • “The international drug control regime should be changed to allow a state to adopt, implement and evaluate its own cannabis regime within its borders.” • “The state should, either directly or through regulation, control potency and quality, assure reasonably high prices and control access and availability in general and particularly to youth.” See

was to stimulate new ideas and debate on where NZ should be going with its overall policy on drugs including alcohol and tobacco. It was certainly achieved, and the organisers (the New Zealand Drug Foundation and NZ Society for Alcohol and Drug Dependence) deserve much credit and the thanks of all those who want to see just and workable policies in this area. Hopefully, some members of the governing political parties will ultimately benefit from these excellent and wide-ranging presentations! For more information see www.; you can also hear some of the conference speakers including Deborah Small, Jeremy Sare and the UN’s Sandeep Chawla on the Radio NZ website: Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S


Drug law review

Law Commission drug law review: how will it work?


he New Zealand Law Commission is currently reviewing the Misuse of Drugs Act, and as Phil Saxby reports, the potential of the review to influence drug control laws in New Zealand was of much interest to the international participants in the recent Healthy Drug Law symposium.

Several speakers applauded the Commission’s approach of revising the law to conform with policy objectives, after a full examination of the range of policy objectives. “We must work together to solve the world’s drug problem, not by losing ourselves in the shifting sands of pointless debates from extreme positions, but by basing ourselves on the firm foundation of hard, empirical evidence.”

An Independent Review

Apart from the requirement to work within the international Conventions, a requirement set by the terms of reference used by the Commission, there are no limitations. In its issues paper, now due to appear mid-2009, the Commission may invite comment and discussion on a range of options without regard to the existing drugcontrol laws or current government policies on drugs. The big plus of the this review is that, unlike government ministries Law Commission is not responsible to a Minister. Its recommendations will be independent.

This review is a “first principles” review. That means its is not like the National Drug Policy review which had the earlier drug policy statement as its starting point and aimed at getting a consensus across numerous govt agencies (Health, Police, Customs, etc) on drug policy. Instead, the Commissioners are researching world-wide to find out what works best within the general framework of the Conventions.

What can NORML do?

The Commissioners will be mindful of public concerns about drug harm but they are very well aware of the limitations and indeed harms of Sandeep Chawla, current drug policies. The process of generating UN Office on Drugs and this report (including public feedback) could Crime, to Wgtn drug give it momentum that other reports have not symposium gained. NORML is not alone; we are part of a community of drug law reformers who want to see changes, and we should be doing whatever we can to work with s the Law Commission reviews NZ’s Misuse of Drugs Act, two others in reaching the wider community. new international studies show use rates have little to do with NORML activists can do things that drug policy or law enforcement. And while teens around the world some organisations cannot do, to protest are smoking less pot overall, New Zealand still the highest teenage against the injustice and inhumanity of cannabis use rate in the world, writes CHRIS FOWLIE. current drug laws. J-Day is one example. A recent World Health less criminally punitive were seen in England, The 4:20 smoke-ins (civil disobedience) Organisation report found approach to cannabis Portugal, Switzerland, are another. NORML can reach people 26.8% of K iw is under use than the US, has Sloven ia a nd Ca nada (via the website and NORML News) who 15 had tried cannabis, experienced lower levels - a l l c o u n t r i e s t h a t are willing to do some work on these compared to only 7.0% of use, particularly among have moved away from issues. All campaigns are now Internet in the Netherlands, and younger adults. Clearly, cannabis prohibition. campaigns, but we must not neglect the 20.2% in the US. The by itself, a punitive policy The study found the traditional campaign methods – writing majority of young adults towards possession and strongest predictor of letters, speaking to people and groups, in New Zealand (62%) and use accounts for limited cannabis use was how street activity and advertising. the US (54%) had tried it variation in nation-level many evenings per week Change is possible! by age 21, compared to rates of i l lega l d r ug teenagers usually spend Don’t assume politicians are going to only 35% of those in the use.” out with their friends. be solidly against any reform regardless Netherlands. R e s e a r c h e r s f r o m A nother st ud y fou nd of the evidence. In West Australia, what The report concluded: t he I n st it ute for t he teens who play highwas unacceptable when it was called “ T he US, w h ic h h a s Prevention of A lcohol school athletics are less “decriminalisation” was supported by been driving much of the and Drug Problems in likely to use cannabis 70% of the public when it was called world’s drug research Switzerland also analysed (although more likely to “prohibition with civil penalties”. We and drug policy agenda, data from 93,297 15-year- use alcohol). know that change is possible. It just isn’t stands out with higher old students around the going to be easy. levels of use of alcohol, world - including New Sources: Kuntsche E, Arch Ped

Experts say prohibition doesn’t work



cocaine, and cannabis, despite punitive illegal d r ug pol icies ... T he Net he rl a nd s, w it h a


Zealand. They found pot use had dropped in most countries from 2002 to 2006. The biggest falls

N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

Adol Med 2009;163(2):119-25; Degenhardt L., et al. PLoS Med 2008;5(7):e141; index.cfm?Group_ID=7793

For more info see the Summer 2008/09 issue of NORML News and www.


Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S



Cannabis More Likely to Cure Cancer than Cause it By Jonathan Rennie


recent study published in the journal Cancer has raised fears that cannabisuse may lead to a higher risk of testicular cancer. However this finding is an exception to the general rule with cannabis/ cancer research, as nearly all serious epidemiological studies have shown little or no increased cancer risk from cannabis-use. For example, a 1997 study examining the relationship of marijuana use and cancer incidence in 64,855 health examinees in California found that cannabis use was not associated with increased risks of developing tobaccouse related cancers - including lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, or melanoma. But among non-tobacco users there was a slight increased risk of prostate cancer and a very slight increased risk of cervical cancer. Overall the researchers concluded there was little evidence that marijuana is carcinogenic although it may link to a marginally higher risk of developing certain site-specific cancers. Likewise, the widely reported but unusual findings published in Cancer only pertained to a very rare type of testicular cancer (nonseminoma) and the link was only shown to exist for frequent users, especially if they had begun using before the age of 18. The overall picture emerging from the research is that cannabis-use is not generally linked to increased cancer risk and may in fact be protective against some cancers, but for some organs heavy long term use may pose a slight risk. T h is probably relates to the 2-AG radical role


N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

endocannabinoids play in the body’s n at u ra l de fe nc e a ga i n st c a nc e r. Normally, active cannabinoids exert an anti-tumoral effect which has been demonstrated in numerous in vitro and in vivo studies. Plant based, synthetic and endocannabinoids (cannabinoids native to our bodies, anandamide etc) have all shown this effect, leading researchers to the supposition that one of the main functions of the endocannabinoid system is basic cancer defence. Heavy cannabisuse starting from a young age may in some organs stress instead of fortify that system, making them more susceptible to cancer. The rare, nonseminomal testicular cancer in the recent study may be an example of this. These concerns should not affect cannabis law reform. As the US NORML Deput y Di rector Pau l A r menta no observes, “Advocates for marijuana law reform have never claimed that cannabis is a harmless substance. This premise

is neither accurate, nor is it the standard society uses or should use - to determine the licit or illicit nature of controlled substances. Many substa nces have lin ks to cancer, including tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. In all th ree cases, the publ ic’s understa nding of these risks has led consumers to voluntarily reduce their intake of these products. By contrast, the acknowledgement of these potential risks has not led to a criminal ban on the use of these substances, nor should it.” Moreover, unlike tobacco, alcohol and caffeine, the bulk of cannabis and cancer research leans in the other direction, although you wouldn’t know it from mainstream media reporting. W it h mo st c a nc e r s, no correlation has been found between cannabis use and greater risk of the disease, and in some cases a reverse correlation has been found, w ith non-ca n nabis users appearing more vulnerable to cancer than cannabis-users. For example in Tashkin’s large UCLA 2005 study of lung cancer patients (involving over 1000 subjects and 1000 controls), cannabisonly smokers contracted cancer less often than non-smokers in some data blocks. The only epidemiological study of respectable size that shows a link between cannabis smoking and lung cancer is a recent French study of cancer patients and cannabis-use in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. But the study failed to separate nicotine-use - all of the 430 subjects in the sample were tobacco smokers (mixing of tobacco and cannabis is very common in those countries) and in a classic scientific understatement the researchers say, “residual confounding by tobacco smoking... may explain part of the increased risk [of lung cancer]”. No kidding. (See sidebar.)


THC molecule

B u t w h a t ’s a l l t h i s a b o u t cannabinoids attacking cancer cells? Some may experience a “this sounds too good to be true” reaction at this point, but the body of evidence showing the powerful anti cell proliferation effect of cannabinoids is unassailably solid and dates back to 1975. Ironically the original researchers were under US Federal pay to find carcinogenic properties in cannabis and simply found the opposite. They injected THC into breast cancer tumours and the tumours shrunk. That research was suppressed but the Feds must have forgotten their own mistake because it was another US government funded study (which attempts were also made to suppress) in the early 90s that brought the anti-tumoral properties of cannabis to light again, in which THC shrunk stomach tumours in mice. This time, researchers in other countries, in particular Manual Guzman and colleagues at Compultense University in Madrid, picked up the thread and did further research showing that cannabinoids are effective at shrinking glioma (brain cancer) tumours in rats, and later, in humans. Si nce then th is effect has been repeatedly demonstrated. In recent examples, researchers of the University of Palermo, Italy, found that a synthetic cannabinoid ( W IN55,212-2) caused programmed cell death in liver cancer cells, concluding that this may indicate a therapeutic potential for cannabinoids in ca ncer of the liver. I n a nother study, a synthetic derivative of the endocannabinoid anandamide inhibited growth of cell lines derived from thyroid carcinomas by inducing programmed cell death, associated with the CB1 (anandamide) receptor. Nobody with knowledge in the field now doubts that active cannabinoids kill cancer cells. There is more than one mechanism for this but the most important is inducement of the body’s basic preventative defence against cell proliferation leading to cancer: apoptosis - or programmed cell death. Anandamide and its various endocannabinoid cousins appear to trigger apoptosis through a

variety of channels. The most commonly reported in studies is stimulation of the CB1 (anandamide) receptor site to flood the cancer cell with the lipid ceramide, which leads to cell death. However there are several other pro-apoptotic pathways open to endocannabinoids, the most effective of which gets “chosen”, depending on the type of cell, feedback from the mitochondria, and other biochemical conditions. T he action of endoca n nabi noids is not limited to involvement with cannabinoid receptors. Anandamide can also bind to Vallinoid type 1 receptor sites within cells setting off a cascade of events which also lead to cell death. In some situations stimulation of the CB1 receptors triggers an opposing protective action against cell death, reminding that the endocannabinoid system is deeply and complexly involved with the regulation of cell mortality. The relationship between cannabis, endoca n nabi noids, a nd ca ncer is complicated and still being unravelled by science. What is clear is that there is enormous potential for cannabis studies to shed light on the body’s natural defences against cancer and how these may be augmented to the optimal degree. Furthermore, plant based active cannabinoids like THC show some of the strongest pro-apoptotic actions in studies so far, suggesting an important role to play for our favourite herb in the development of a cure for one of humankind’s most frightening diseases. Sources: Munsen, A.E. et al. J Nat Cancer Inst, Vol 55, No. 3, Sep 1975; Sanchez, C. et al. FEBS Letters 436: 6-10. 1998; De Petrocellis, L. et al Pro Nat Acdy Sci 95: 8375-8380. 1998; Galve-Roperh, I. et al. Nat. Med. 6 (3): 313-9; Sanchez, C., et al Cancer Research 61: 5784-5789, 2001; Maccarrone, M., “Endocannabinoids: The Brain and Body’s Marijuana and Beyond”, 2006; Giuliano M, et al. Biochimie. 2008 Nov 27; Berthiller J, et al. J Thorac Oncol 2008;3(12):1398-403; Chen AL, et al, J Psy Drugs 2008 40(3):263-72; Janet R., et al. Cancer, 9 Feb 2009; Cozzolino R, et al. Invest New Drugs, 2009 Feb 3.

Why cannabis smokers have a lower cancer risk than tobacco smokers An investigation by eleven scientists from the USA and Taiwan indicates that cannabis smoke does not increase but may even decrease the incidence of cancers associated with tobacco smoke. They reviewed data from ba sic research and a re-evaluation of a large epidemiological study. It is known that cannabis smoking causes precursors of cancer, which are also observed in tobacco smokers. However, studies show that these precursors “may have little, if any predictive value” and these lesions are “generally reversible and often regress spontaneously.” In studies with monkeys “prolonged exposure to marijuana smoke failed to produce any carcinogenic effects.” While cannabis smoke contains higher levels of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) than tobacco smoke, this does not mean that cannabis smokers are at a higher cancer risk than tobacco smokers, since the level of PAHs is less important than the influence of substances on PAH activation by certain enzymes in the liver. "Not surprisingly, spiking tobacco tar with delta-9-THC markedly reduced carcinogenic activity" in experiments with cancer cells, scientists wrote in an article for the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. In a cohort study by Sidney et al. (1997) of about 65,000 subjects tobacco smokers had a significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer than cannabis smokers after a mean observation period of 8.6 years. Cannabis smokers actually had a significantly lower lung cancer risk than control subjects who did not smoke cannabis. In response to a criticism the study was not long enough to find an increased incidence of cancers in the cannabis group, they noted it was long enough to observe 179 cases of tobacco related cancers (TRC) among tobacco smokers, more than the rate for non smokers. Only three cases of tobacco related cancers were observed in cannabis smokers, lower than the rate for non smokers. Source: Chen AL, et al, J Psychoactive Drugs 2008;40(3):263-72. Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S



N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S


X X X Amsterdam

o s t s u j s ’ t “I ” ! d e s civili

Special report Norml News editor Chris Fowlie recently went to Amsterdam for the 21st annual High Times Cannabis Cup, where Kiwiseeds won Best Indica for their strain Mt Cook. Hash parties, reggae royalty, medical grows, magic mushrooms, dodgy shit and overblown egos, Cup week had it all. But as the largely American crowd were partying hard, local activists were fighting Government plans to crack down on coffeeshops.


msterdam is three flights and 30 hours away, but it is well worth the effort. Stepping off the plane feels like a weight being lifted. Freedom, at last! I was staying with Rob Clarke, legendary breeder and author of books such as Marijuana Botany and Hashish! He lives in a typical Dutch apartment - small yet comfy - conveniently located round the corner from the first Green House coffeeshop and with several others located nearby. But like most locals Rob had never ventured inside. Instead, there is better and cheaper stuff to be found direct from dealers, smugglers and growers, just like back home. He handed me an egg of Maroccan brown hash, “shaped for smuggling”. It soon softened and I set to work rolling my first legal joint since I was last here. Rob briefed me on what to expect. Strictly speaking, cannabis is not actually legal in the Netherlands, but it is tolerated by authorities. Each local municipality is different, and the rules sometimes change depending on who is elected. Most cities including Amsterdam allow the sale of small amounts of cannabis to adults in coffeeshops. The is intended to break any link with hard drugs and minimise youth access, and has been remarkably successful. And it’s just so civilised to walk into a cannabis cafe selling all sorts of marijuana and hash from all around the world, after coming from New Zealand, the country with the highest cannabis arrest rate


N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

in the world. But things were going backward under a new conservative government. “You’ll see,” he warned. Smoking tobacco in venues, bars and restaurants was banned last June. The Amsterdam city council hired over 100 inspectors to check that joints were pure marijuana, which may still be smoked inside. But many traditional ‘brown’ bars and cafes were rebelling against this and had put their ashtrays back out. Bartenders and coffeeshop dealers often told me it was not their job to check what I put in my joint. There was widespread resentment at the new law, even among people who did not smoke tobacco, but the irony of being allowed to smoke marijuana inside while not allowed tobacco was impossible to ignore. While I was there the government announced 43 Amsterdam coffeeshops within 250m of a school would have to close by 2011, including the original Bulldog Cafe and the Mellow Yellow. Local police and school principals opposed the plan, arguing the coffeeshops checked for ID and kids could not be served. The coffeeshops would be replaced by street dealers, they said. The issue dominated the media for several days and the coverage was a lot more intelligent and rational than what we would get in New Zealand. After all, Dutch journalists, like the rest of the country, have lived with this policy for thirty years and they know it works better than anything else.

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Coffeeshop CRACKDOWN

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The sale of marijuana is not actually legal in the Netherlands, but tolerated according to rules set down by local councils. Amsterdam’s coffeeshops follow the “AHOYG” rules: No Alcohol, No Hard drugs, No “Overlast” (nuisance), No Youth (R18), and a Gram limit (5g per sale, 500g allowed on premises). Added to this is a new rule: no tobacco. The Council has employed inspectors to make sure joints have no tobacco in them. During Cannabis Cup week, the Government announced another rule that Amsterdam coffeeshops may not be within 250m of a school. This will cause the closure of 43 of the city’s 220-odd coffeeshops, as the council will not allow them to move. The sale of magic mushrooms was banned on December 1, even though locals noted the only problems are with tourists from oppressive countries. The city council has also been purchasing prostitute’s windows in the red light district and replacing them with artist’s studios and fashion stores in an effort to ‘clean up’ the area, which is actually cleaner and safer than most other cities including here in NZ.

Opposite page: de wallen, the Red Light Area, is home to many coffeeshops well as the Marihuana Hash Hemp Museum and the Cannabis College. This page: Amsterdam’s coffeeshops range from small, intimate cafes like the original Dampkring (top left), where you can chat to the friendly dealer and select the bud of your choice, to new upmarket joints like Barney’s Uptown (top right) and the new Dampkring (centre). Katsu is a favourite among locals. Bottom: enjoying OG Bubba Kush with a Roor bong. PHOTOS: CHRIS Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S


X X X Amsterdam Even though cannabis is legally on sale to adults in over 200 outlets across the city, Dutch teenagers seem to have little interest in it or any other drug. They have some of the lowest use rates in the world. I didn’t see a single one even peek into a coffeeshop, let alone try to be served, and I spent a lot of time in them (for research purposes, of course).

Cannabis Cup

THIS PAGE Left: the Kiwiseeds booth. Below: an eager crowd; DNA’s Pocket Alchemy mouth spray; cosmic horn blowing. OPPOSITE PAGE from top: Sensi Seeds, Soma and Wax; spots on; Ed Borg from Delta-9 Labs sparks up.

2008 Results Overall Cannabis Cup 1st: The Greenhouse - Super Lemon Haze 2nd: Barney’s - Utopia Haze 3rd: The Green Place Chocolope

Indica Cup

1st: Kiwiseeds - Mt. Cook 2nd: Homegrown Fantaseeds Cheese 3rd: Amnesia Seeds - LSD

Sativa Cup

1st: Barney’s Farm - Utopia Haze 2nd: Paradise Seeds - De La Haze 3rd: Resin Seeds - Cannatonic

Import Hash Cup

Dutch Hash Cup

1st: Barney’s - Royal Jelly 2nd: The Greenhouse Greenhouse Ice 3rd: Grey Area - Grey Crystal

Product Cup

1st=: Barney’s - BC Chillum / DNA - Pocket Alchemy Spray 2nd: Bubbleman - Bubble Bags 3rd: Herborizer - Glass Vaporizer Best Booth: Barney’s

Glass Cup

1st: DNA Genetics - AK 2nd: Roor - Mr. Nice 3rd: Green Devil - MOE


1st: Barney’s - Triple Zero

2nd: Greenhouse - Super Polm 3rd: Amnesia - Shiraz


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Amsterdam X X X And the timing of this step backwards? It was opening day of the 21st High Times Cannabis Cup. As local marijuana activists were scrambling to conduct media interviews and mobilise whatever support they could get, 2500 excited ganja tourists arrived in town for the cup.

Cup fever

Cup week starts at an expo centre on the outskirts of town called the Powerzone, and from there judges visit the various coffeeshops that have entered strains. I had been loaned a bike by Bret and Jackie of Ganja Tours, who show people around the city in a ganja friendly way. Bret offered to show me the way to the cup. There really is nothing quite like biking around the beautiful streets of Amsterdam while high as a kite, even if it was snowing at the time! Hundreds of cold but excited judges were huddling in the snow outside the expo hall as they waited for the doors to open. A friend of Rob’s got us some backstage passes and we headed inside. The hall was filled with stalls run by seed companies, coffeeshops and related businesses. THSeeds had a contest called the Trichome Challenge, which involved a six-foot glass bong, a teaspoon of trichome crystals, a large video screen and a close-up on red boggling eyes. Only a few people kept the lungful of potent vapours down without coughing. Both THSeeds and DNA Genetics had potent cannabis mouth sprays. THSeeds called their spray, made from ice hash of their cup-winning strain MK Ultra dissolved in alcohol, ‘M-Spray Ultra’. The DNA spray, dubbed Pocket Alchemy, was made in California and brought over on the plane. In fact it seemed many people brought weed with them, especially medical users from California, and a lot of people were buying seeds to take back home. THSeeds even entered some outdoor Cali weed called Rambo in the Sativa Cup. The 500 gram entry was sent by regular mail, but was intercepted by Dutch customs, who then let it through anyway. Maybe they were coming to the cup too. One table at the cup featured a row of 3-foot high quality custom RooR bongs, valued at several hundred euros each. A Volcano Vaporizer filled huge 15-foot balloon which were was passed round. There was even a Canadian guy by the door doing spots! He was promoting a spotting bong that he had produced called the Hooter. Soma held court upstairs, with samples of his Lavender strain while accomplice Wax rolled huge trumpet joints that were wrapped with a snake of fresh ice hash. Seed companies such as Kiwiseeds, Green Life, Dutch Passion, DNA Genetics, Delta-9 Labs, Green House and Barney’s all gave away copious amounts of marijuana to entice the judges to vote for them. There was certainly a great party atmosphere at the expo. The room quickly filled smoke from many potent and aromatic strains, and the chatter of excited first timers, joyful anticipation from seasoned hands, and reunions of old friends. It was certainly an honour and a privilege for me to meet so many cannabis activists and entrepreneurs, including grow guru Jorge Cervantes, Sadhu Sam the Skunk man, pot photographer Barge, the Kiwiseeds crew, Arjan from the Green House, Simon from Serious Seeds, Mila, Bubbleman, Arthur from Cones, Martin from Roor bongs, as well as their friendly, intelligent staff and all the keen judges from around the world. As more than one remarked, they weren’t really there for the cup but for the other people who come for the cup. I wandered over to talk to Bubbleman and he asked me to find him some ice so he could make some hash. At the bar they pointed backstage. Here’s my chance, I thought. That’s where the huge piles of weed will be, and my ‘backstage’ pass can get me there! But there was no security, just a curtain and beyond that a dark concrete room with broken stacked chairs and an old ice machine under a pile of junk. After watching Bubbleman’s demonstration, involving weed, ice, a small washing machine and silk screen filters, it was time for the official opening ceremony. This was as you’d expect: a very hippy affair,

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X X X Amsterdam

Judging great hash Assessing the quality of great hashish is not as simple as marijuana. You can use a loupé or magnifying glass but you can’t always tell what you are looking at. Adulterants are commonly added. But there are a few simple tricks. Unfortunately “is it hard or soft” is no longer one of them, because dodgy suppliers have worked out how to add whatever it takes to make a hard hash soft or vice versa. There are labs in Amsterdam that boast they can take a hash from anywhere in the world and turn it into whatever type you want it to be. That means coffeeshops can still sell popular types even if they can’t get any! If you come across some hash, check how it sounds when you drop it. Has it got “clack”? That’s how good hash sounds. Not click or clunk or dink or donk. The next question is, has it got snap? When Amnesia you pull it apart does Shiraz the hash ‘snap’ leaving a tail? (like the hash at top right) Poor quality hard hash cannot be pulled apart, while mediocre soft hash will stretch and crumble. Finally, does it bubble? When you put a flame to it, does it fizz, melt and bubble? That’s what the best hash should do. As I found, there are very few hashes these days that pass all of these tests, even in Amsterdam and even at the Cannabis Cup. I was lucky enough to check out all the entries for the Import Hash Cup. After the cup was over, our inside lady in the Temple Dragon Crew, the cup organising committee, took me and Rob to check out what was left of the entries. Surprisingly, there was a lot left, although all of the local ice hashes had been consumed. The hotel was littered with ashtrays overflowing with roaches bigger than thumbs. Of the 20 or so import hashes we picked 5 that we thought would be worth smoking and took away hefty lumps of each. Only one passed the all the tests, and it was very tasty indeed (‘Aalin Grano Cru’ from Boerejonens Coffeeshop, pictured above). It had snap, clack and bubble and oh my gosh did it do the business. Rob and I raced to finish it, but the others - and these were the best of the cup entries - were a bit disappointing. A couple fizzed slightly but after half a toke just tasted of carbon. The best hash finished 32

N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

Clack, snap and bubble: Aalin Grano Cru from Boerejonens Coffeeshop nowhere in the cup, probably not helped by being entered by an little-known coffeeshop. The winners were rather predictably Barney’s and the Green House, the two most-promoted brands in Amsterdam.

Legends of Hashish The best party of cup week was not part of the Cup. Legends of Hashish is an invite-only private party held at a Lebanese Restaurant. Everyone there is a cannabis legend in their own right, and everyone brings a piece to show off. It was astounding. The worst piece in the room was better than anything at the cup or in any coffeeshop. Pipes and bongs filled with all sorts of hashes were continually passed around the room and the nice thing about smoking hash is that you don’t get sleepy. To really set the scene, videos taken in Afghanistan in the 1980’s were playing on a large television screen. They showed mullahs and very traditional looking Afghan dudes crumbling about 50 grams of hash into these huge stand-up water bongs they call Chillums. These are ornately beaded and feature a large sculpted cone called a sarcona. The guys were very serious about the task before them and wanted to talk to god, which they apparently did. Many fell over and started spasming or vomiting then going into a trance dance. After a while I could tell the whole room was thinking the same thing: “and I thought I was hard. How do these guys do it?” Then two of these huge waterpipes were wheeled out. Rob handed me a lump of vintage Afghani hash and asked me to break it up. Barge set to work on the Maroccan. The Chairman sat by the chillum, pouring a fresh spoon full of 1988 Hindu Kush ice hash on top for


Amsterdam X X X

THSeed’s MK Ultra buds, MK-Spray and M-Kash ice hash

Green House Super Polm every person. As he explained to me, in the 1980’s they selected the original Hindu Kush and Skunk #1 mother plants from a kilo of seeds they had smuggled out of Afghanistan. They grew the lot out and selected only those two plants, which they have kept alive as mothers ever since. The sarcona cones were filled with about 25 grams of hash each: Maroccan layered over Nepali layered over Afghan, with that magic 20year-old Hindu Kush ice hash on top. Several people fell over after taking a hit, and everyone agreed it was the most high they had ever been - me included! It was such an amazing night that it would be impossible for the cup to compare, no matter what they pulled out of the bag.

complete with chakra opening, weird horn blowing and the lighting of candles. The theme for this year was reggae, and cup week was filled with great parties. The Green House had Bob Marley’s youngest son Ky-Mani performing in the Melkweg, one of the city’s first coffeeshops. The next night THSeeds held an underground party, while rivals DNA Genetics had the official cup party featuring LA-based hip hop outfit Dilated Peoples. Barney’s sponsored a party at the Melkweg featuring legendary reggae band Steel Pulse, and Peter Tosh was honoured into the High Times Counter Culture Hall of Fame. With his son Andrew performing alongside Ky-Mani Marley and Bunny Wailer’s daughter CenC Love, all the original Wailers were represented.

Winning strains

The award ceremony was held at the cup expo centre, backed up by Andrew Tosh, Bushman and Cannabis Cup regular Rocker T, who one wry observer noted, was “killing reggae one song at a time”. He was so bad you had to be there to believe it. One of the first cups awarded was the Indica Cup. This is a seed company category, which means a blind taste test by a panel of judges, as opposed to the coffeeshop cups which are decided by popular vote. These are thought to be more open to bribery and are dominated by whichever company spends the most money on promoting themselves and giving away the most marijuana. The seed company Indica

Big Buddha’s Blue Cheese

Maroc Royal from Resin coffeeshop

Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S


X X X Amsterdam

Left: using ‘de verdamper’ vaporiser in the Dutch parliament. Above: the Cannabis Tribunaal. Right: mushrooms before the ban. Below: cannabis seeds sold at the airport souvenir shop.

and Sativa cups are therefore held in higher esteem. It was an honour to be there to witness Kiwiseeds winning the Indica Cup for their strain Mt Cook. While some rivals disputed the result, one of the judging panel later told me it really was a clear winner. It had the best flavour, they came back to it first and they consumed it first. The other cups were dominated by Barney’s and Green House, who were rumoured to spend something like 250,000 euros on their cup campaigns. I think they did have really nice marijuana and hashes, just not the best that I saw that week!


Local activism

Cup week also marked the 10th anniversary of the Cannabis College, an educational facility supported by several of the ‘good guys’ of the Amsterdam scene such as Ben Dronkers from Sensi Seeds and Eddie from Flying Dutchmen. They organised a full program of events including a film festival, hemp gallery opening, a parade as well as a symposium at the national parliament in the Hague, but Cup organisers would not let them promote it in their events. I couldn’t quite understand this, as the visiting judges would surely enjoy experiencing this side of Amsterdam, and both sides seemed worse off by not working together. The gallery opening in particular was impressive and interesting. Ben Dronkers has assembled a wonderful collection of cannabis and hemp artefacts, worthy of any museum, including original old masters, old medicine bottles, antique hemp processing equipment, as well as modern plastics and composites made from hemp (I hope to be able to bring you photos and a story in an future issue). After the hazy crazy times of cup week abated, I headed to Den Hague to


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visit the Dutch parliament and attend the ‘Cannabis Tribunaal’ organised by local activists. Ben Dronkers had put up 250,000 euros as a prize for anyone who could prove cannabis has more negative effects than positive effects. Needless to say, the prize was not won. Speaker after speaker attested to the harms of cannabis prohibition and the benefits of the Dutch approach. Vaporisers were handily set up in the foyer, with a balcony allocated for smoking joints. It was truly refreshing to openly consume cannabis inside the Dutch Parliament, especially as the Tweed Kamer (upper house) was in session upstairs. The fun times were short-lived. The following week a ban on the sale of magic mushrooms came into place. Dutch drug policy, like in other countries, is often not based on evidence but can also be political in nature. The advantage of their policy of ‘tolerance’ is that the rules can be altered by authorities in response to changing circumstances; the disadvantage is that policy can be held captive by small extremist coalition partners, as is currently the case. Having said that, the Netherlands is still the best place to see sensible drug policies in action. I can’t imagine anyone visiting Holland with an open mind and return still supporting our insane drug laws. For the worldwide marijuana culture, Amsterdam is our marijuana Mecca, and every proud consumer - or doubting prohibitionist - should make the pilgrimage at least once in their life. As for me, I can’t wait to go back. In upcoming issues I’ll bring you interviews with DNA Genetics, Serious Seeds, THSeeds, Bubble Man, Mila from the Pollinator, Wernard Brunning who pioneered the first coffeeshop, Marco from Treating Yourself magazine, the Cannabis College, and more!

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X X X Amsterdam




The boys from up north have done it again. Kiwiseeds recently won Best Indica at the High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, so Chris Fowlie sat down for a session with founder Tim A’Court. Chris: Congratulations for winning your second Cannabis Cup! Could you take us through what happened, what you entered and why? Tim: We entered the Mt Cook this year which is a plant that didn’t come from anywhere near Mt Cook it is just the beautiful name that we gave it. It is a true Indica, one of the first when we were bringing Indica seeds back from overseas in the late 80s early 90s. We started playing round with them and this was something we came up with. Since then we brought it back to Amsterdam, and have crossed it, bettered it and made it into the hybrid kind of bigger plant. It is a fat leaved Indica with lots of crystals and grows in nice short seasons and has that typical Indica quality which is lots of strength. Unfortunately we didn’t have a lot of it. This was a selection from a group of seeds that we have grown out. It happened to be much better than the last one we had. For the cup we have to enter nearly 100 grams of weed and it took up everything we had. I know people were not happy they didn’t get a change to taste it or have any of it!

Me included! Speaking of taste, the High Times judging crew said they all agreed Mt Cook was the best and said it was a clear winner. Yep, I’ve heard that as well from the lady who fills the jars for the judges. She came in and got her packet of Mt Cook seeds before she left and she said the same thing. I’m absolutely rapt. I mean the seed cup is always great. We don’t have a coffee shop so I don’t win coffee shop prizes but the seed cup is the real one. The samples are there and people vote on what they see and taste. It is a blind test so there is no buying of votes or persuasion from other people. So we are absolutely rapt and there are a whole lot of seed companies who are astounded that we’ve taken not just the Sativa Cup two years ago but now we’ve got the Indica Cup. We have never really been known as Indica-type people. Our idea was originally to be the Sativa varieties that we grew in New Zealand in the early days; to capture some of the genetics that we were rapidly losing in New Zealand due to skunk varieties and other various things coming in.

mako haze


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Before you got to Amsterdam what were you getting up to in New Zealand? Ever since I was a kid, the whole family was a horticulture family and we still are. Over the years my crazy mum who I guess I should blame everything on has grown everything from sweet peas to boysenberries and loganberries. We have always had glass houses, open ground market gardening kind of thing. When I was 15 I left school - stupidly, but not stupidly. The marijuana thing was just a sideline. It was just another herb in the garden in those days. Of course we realised we could grow it and we had friends who all wanted it so it became something that we were good at, at a young age. I think my brother and I had our first plants when we were 13 years old. I’m the first one to say it is not a

Amsterdam X X X

complicated plant. It’s not a hard plant to grow. Breeding is a different story. It is really easy for anyone to grow in so many different ways. It’s a fantastic medicine. I hear in those days you were a member of Norml in Whangarei and did a bit of activism. We were all big members of Norml. I realized that is wasn’t fair that a lot of friends were in court for having a roach in there pocket. It was destroying young peoples lives. I joined Norml and every Thursday we would go to the court house with pockets full of joints and smoke them on the steps and we would try and get in. On several occasions we had these sessions going in the middle of the court house. There were often police coming up from Auckland and they would just go nuts - grabbing people, absolute chaos and violence. It made the whole thing look stupid.

far left: tim at the cup, shortly after winning the best indica cup for mt cook. TOP CENTRE: The moment of victory. above: sharing a joint of mako haze.

What sort of growing did you get up to in New Zealand? The typical guerrilla growing - cages in the bush. Then we got a little bit sneaky and realised that putting it right under peoples noses was actually the best way. We actually ended up night time gardening right on the edges of towns. mt cook After that we moved to the Hawkes Bay and down there was huge demand for this stuff but the price was incredibly high There are couple of strains we have that are typical kiwi compared to up North. We ended up going back up north weeds. One of them is “2 Pounder” which was really famous up and putting our patches out and feeding the people of Hawkes north when I was a kid. We brought it back into Holland and we Bay with our produce. The last couple of years we went back to Northland and tried pretty unsuccessfully to pull off the big one have made it into more of a super hybrid that really can produce a lot of weed if people have got a bit more room It really is that - we didn’t pull it off but at the end we had just enough to come classic big old kiwi sativa with that lovely sativa taste and high. back to the UK. The rest is history. The other one would be Mako Haze. We had a plant that we What do you put your success down to? nicknamed Mako in the north and we brought this back in clone Just being humble kiwis not being full of bullshit. We have form and crossed it with the Haze. We managed to capture the stuck to the really basic old varieties crossed with some things spice and taste of the New Zealand bush weed. we have brought in from NZ. We haven’t gone too far off, we have kept the hybrid vigour, we haven’t bred and bred into some Have you kept that original cutting alive? Yes – we have to keep it all going, and we do rely a lot on strange little thing. It can get all too complicated. We need original stock that we’ve still got going. You have to keep to get back to the basics. I like to keep it really simple when it not just in one place but two or three places, just to make people come into the grow shop and need advice. I don’t want sure. If one goes down or we get busted, they take everything. to sell them every bottle of potion in the shop which is how it One of my biggest nightmares is to keep it going. Every 3 or comes in a grow shop in the end. 4 weeks the clones are replenished in each place. I think we What is your top tip for growing the best marijuana around have got about 150 different things in vegetation all the time, – from the kiwiseeds catalogue of course! just for the mothers and fathers for all those different things. Keep it simple – you can get carried away with additives. You can always go back to seed but there is nothing like the Stick to what is known. Marijuana requires a lot of food. It is original stock. I know a few people in town, different seed a very fast growing annual – the growing and nutrition of it is breeders, quite famous ones, who have lost everything at one very important. stage and they have tried to bring it back from nothing. That is If people want to recapture that old style Kiwi taste what a big shame but it is also something that happens in an illegal should they be going for? situation.

Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S


X X X Amsterdam The perception from people outside Holland is often that it is very liberal, that it is legal and that you can do anything, but the reality seems a lot different. It has been going backwards, but even when it was at its peak, all it meant is that the Dutch people are pragmatic people, and the Dutch always saw this as a personal liberty. Rather than go in all guns blazing they decided it was better to try have some control but also at the same time try and separate the soft drugs from the hard drugs. All they did was say that personal use of drugs should not be a criminal offence, so coffee shops were allowed. The idea was to take it out of residential areas and put it where it could be controlled. But the problem is the supply to the coffeeshops is illegal, and the coffeeshops are only allowed to have 500 grams. The “backdoor” as we call it is totally illegal. As a grower it is completely illegal.

Dave from Kiwiseeds celebrating with the 2008 Indica Cup. Below: healthy plants on display in the Kiwiseeds grow shop. in Amsterdam.

What can New Zealand learn from the Dutch scene? It has always been such a shame that we couldn’t do something like the Dutch. I still see New Zealand as having the opportunity to be an eco-paradise. If we said in New Zealand tomorrow that we would decriminalise marijuana we would have hordes of tourists wanting to come and lie down and smoke a joint, because people say it is so far away and when you get there you can’t score anything! Give people their weed and let them have a holiday in paradise. So what does the future hold for you and kiwi seeds? We have won the cup again this year and I was almost looking to take a break but the race is on to get out all the seeds that are in the catalogue this year. We are doing some feminised seeds this year, purely through pressure to do that. I really don’t like the idea of spreading genetically modified seeds round the world and ruining our stocks of plants. When people buy feminised seeds what would you caution them about? If they have any love for marijuana and the species as a whole, if you buy feminised seeds you should grow them, clone them and flower them but don’t try and seed them. If you grow a plant and it is a couple of months old and a couple of feet high you can sex it there and then. Just take a gauze bag, stick it over the very lower branch. Doesn’t have to be perfectly 12/12. Give it a lot of darkness and a little bit of air as well and that branch will sex and you can pull it out or keep growing it. It means that you don’t need to have feminised seeds. Are you looking for new strains if people back home have the meanest weed around and want to get that to you? Absolutely. Just give us an email or ring or put it in a video case. We actually supply little containers if people want to send a clone. We would be absolutely honoured to grow those things out. Maybe we could get the Mako Haze back and enter the Auckland Cup! Are there official overseas sites that people can go to to buy your seeds? We sell to distributors and some of those take the risk for selling overseas, mainly There is no problem with it at the moment but as a producer we have to be careful. England seems to have no problems sending anywhere in the world. So there you have it, go for the English sites. Thanks to Tim, Dave and all the crew at Kiwiseeds, and here’s to winning your third Cup!


N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S



The DIY Grow Room A

friend of mine was round awhile ago, just sort of hanging out, as you do at this time of year. He was doing his usual moan about pot prices, its poor quality and lack of availability during the second half of summer. “It’s the same thing every year,” he reckons. “Why doesn’t someone stockpile heaps till then, when everyone’s run out?” I didn’t bother answering him, because he already knows my answer. There was a lull in the conversation while the joint went back and forth. “I suppose I should just grow my own” he finally comes out with, a little hesitantly. Again I held my tongue because I’ve already given him that

advice enough times, generally while we are sharing his problems and my herb. Not that I begrudge it at all because he’s funnier than a fart in church and more than generous with his time and practical skills. “It’s expensive to set up though” he bellows as he exhales another toke in a resigned voice that writes off his sensible idea only a minute after he has it. “Cheaper than buying it bro,” I said.

Kitset grow tents have everything you need to get growing 40

N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

How much do you spend a month on weed?” “You know my wife only lets my buy a $50 bag a week. Don’t rub it in, I’m just glad I’ve got mates,” he laughs and coughs at the same time. He then changed the subject by recounting a hugely funny joke that’s far too filthy to publish. It left me thinking though. My friend is married with three kids, he’s got a pretty good job and his wife works part time too. He drives a late model car and has a cool motorbike besides. However, I know that after the mortgage and bills have been paid, there is not much left over to spend on luxuries like weed. Still, $50 a week, every week mounts up to a sizeable sum quite quickly. It’s about $225 per month for about half an ounce, or $2600 per year for around six ounces. That is if his dealer sells 3 gram $50 bags. Seems like a lot of money for not much weed to me. Spending even half his annual budget on a personal supply grow cupboard would set him up and liberate him from his dealer. I stopped by my local grow shop, The Grow and Brew Shop in Silverdale, to see how much it costs for a simple set up. I gave them a budget of $1300 (half of my mate’s annual pot outgoings) and said “what can we get for that?” Well blimey, as you can see in the photo, we can get a really cool mylar tent, a hydroponic system, a light plus flash as shade, the extractor fan and odour filter, pretty much top-of-the-line everything we need to start up from scratch. With that set up and a little guidance from yours truly, he’d be harvesting his annual consumption quota of six ounces several times a year. He’d spend less money, have more to smoke and share, and his wife would have an extra $50 a week. Brilliant! The next time my mate rocked round looking like he was hanging out I couldn’t wait to tell him all about my trip to the helpful guys at the shop. I rambled on

Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S



GROW Q&A The Bush Doc answers your burning grow questions. Help! My room is running too hot. It’s got a 600 watt hps in a space measuring 1m x 1m x 2m. What’s the best way to cool it down? - hothead, Auckland Hey Hothead, get a bigger extractor fan and enlarge the air intakes into your grow room. Cool tube light shades can do a great job of keeping the bulb heat out of the grow room, just make sure it’s vented well away from your air intakes. Otherwise find a cooler part of the house for your grow room i.e. basement. Are you running your light during the night?

about the really cool features of the mylar grow tent, and the clever little hydro system. “My wife would never let me spend $1300 on something so frivolous, no matter how I dressed it up” The absolute truth in his statement instantly shut me up. Of course there are priorities in his household like school fees, uniforms, mortgage, groceries etc. His $50 bag and a box of beer are eagerly anticipated and well deserved after his days work, but a nonessential treat non-the-less. I rolled another joint while we discussed his latest choice of tyres for his motorbike. “What did they cost?” I asked him, ready to pounce on his poverty argument. “Choice deal bro, $600 for the pair” “Right, if you can afford to set up a little corner of your basement garage. We’ll do it for $600, and if your wife

Buiild a frame (above) and install the electrical devices, wrap it in mylar (below) and add air intake and outtake fans.

How do I germinate seeds? newbie, Tauranga Hi Newbie, read as much as you can about the joys of growing to broaden your base knowledge on plant care, including my article in the last issue of Norml News. I recommend you plant your seeds in a shallow bed of good quality seed raising mix, inside a propagation bin, and place it in a consistently warm place (not too hot). Good luck. How can I tell when my plants are ready? - Kate, Wellington Kate, I could dribble pages worth of subjective blarney on judging ripeness. Some growers will spend hours peering through a photo loupe trying to determine at which precise point the plant is exhibiting maximum amounts of stalked glandular trichromes. I think a rough guide for most enthusiasts is when about two thirds of the stamen (hair) has turned brown. Or when you just can’t wait any longer. Happy harvest. Got a grow question? Email the Bush Doctor at and we’ll do our best to answer in upcoming issues.


N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009


Gro potting mix makes growing healthy plants easy. Gro potting mix is a peat based organic mix and is fundamentally different to other bark based potting mixes.

Gro potting mix contains perlite and vermiculite to help maintain soil structure even after prolonged periods of heavy watering.

Peat is produced by nature and is plentiful in NZ. Peat has an even consistency and great air and water retention characteristics that promote vigorous root growth.

Gro potting mix can also be used as a soilless medium in hydroponic gardens. The organic nutrients and bacteria already present in Gro will not compound with your favourite fertilizers to burn your precious plants.

Gro potting mix contains neem cake which is also an organic fertilizer as well as a natural pesticide. Neem is a natural wonder!!! Gro potting mix contains lime and a wetting agent to ensure consistent pH and moisture levels throughout the medium, even over extended periods.

Organic gardeners now have a medium, which can be used as a base for other organic additives. Hydro-organic cultivation has the potential to grow vigorous, big crops while retaining delicious, full organic flavours and aromas. In reticulation systems the pump filters will need to be cleaned more frequently.

Now available in 50 litre bulk packs and 30 litre carry bags.

Only at the best Gro shops.

Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S


BUSH DOCTOR Te Kakariki Grow room, Auckland

complains, tell her you won’t buy your weekly bag for 12 weeks which’ll pay for it.” This is roughly the amount of time it’ll take to grow a few cuttings into plants, flower them to maturity, harvest, then clean up the grow space for another cycle. It’s not long to go without when you can see your buds growing, and from then on you are saving money into perpetuity. “If you can do it for $600, I’m in” he says looking at me with a doubtful


N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

expression. So, the challenge was on. I went back to the grow shop to see what we can get within our radically revised budget. Firstly, and most importantly, the light. We bought a 400watt high pressure sodium light kit, including shade, ballast, bulb, fittings plus hooks and chains for $199. Next crucial hardware component is the extractor fan. Heaps of people skimp on this but you want your plants to breathe. We bought a good one for $279. We also need a decent timer that can handle switching the light on and off punctually and reliably ($49.50). Being a practical sort of bloke, my mate has lots of bits and pieces lying around. We knocked together a basic timber frame 1.2m x 1.2m x 1.8m out of off cuts he had lying around. We installed the electrical appliances, then wrapped the framework with panda film ($32.50). Cutting holes through the panda film for air intake

and the extractor fan is easy, and we used some cardboard instead of ducting to block light from the air intake. Viola, one functional grow room. All we needed now was a dozen plantabags which cost $5.40 and some choice potting mix for $40. We tallied it all up: • 400 watt light kit $199 • Digital heavy duty timer $49.50 • Centrifugal extractor fan $279 • Panda film $32.50 • Potting mix $40 • Planta bags $5.40 • Total $605.40 My Mate is stoked. His room works perfectly, and his plants are thriving! So much that after six weeks of growing he spent another $160 on an air filter to stop his entire house smelling of ripening buds. By the time he harvested, only ten weeks had passed since we built his grow room. He had spent around $800 (because he also bought some nice plant food at the same time as the air filter), and he harvested just under ten ounces of primo. He actually surpassed his wildest expectations and now has dismantled his little set up for a while. His wife was getting a little anxious about it towards harvest time, so he has decided to only set up his “gro box” once a year to meet his needs. Next year it’s going to be even cheaper for him to produce his personal supply because he’s already got all the hardware. Now finally, these days when my bro rocks around, he generally brings along a nugget of home grown to share. Sound!

Harm reduction



Although the vast majority of people who use cannabis suffer no harm, it is not without risks and some people do experience problems. This guide is intended to help people make informed choices so they can stay safe. Harm reduction > Ensure that your cannabis use does not impair your health, family, employment and education, and try to have regular periods of reducing use or not consuming cannabis. > Remember that “Less is More” - the less you use, the less you will need - and the more high you will get. > NORML recommends consuming organic

cannabis if possible. > Heavy long term cannabis use may lead to some respiratory damage. Deep tokes and long breath duration are more harmful to the lungs. Take it easy! > Water pipes and bongs help cool the smoke, filter solids, and absorb the most harmful tars in the water. Bongs can make the smoke very smooth, so avoid inhaling too deeply. Replace bong water each

time and regularly sterilise your pipe or bong (eg using meths, alcohol or denture cleaning tablets). > If you’re into spotting, try using a lower temperature. Red hot is too hot! Cooler knives will give you a much better taste and smoother hit with no coughing. > Try other ways of ingesting cannabis, such as eating or drinking it, or using a vaporiser to heat the herb and release THC

NORML’s Principles of Responsible Marijuana Use A d u l t s O n l y. C a n n a b i s consumption is for adults only. It is irresponsible to provide cannabis to children. Many things and activities are suitable for young people, but others - including drugs - absolutely are not. Safe Driving. The responsible cannabis consumer does not operate a motor vehicle or other heavy machinery while impaired by cannabis, nor (like other responsible citizens) impaired by any other substance or condition, including prescription medicines or fatigue.

Set and Setting.

The responsible cannabis user will carefully consider his/her mindset and physical setting, and regulate use accordingly.

Resist Abuse. Use of cannabis, to the extent that it impairs health, personal development or achievement, is abuse, to be resisted by responsible cannabis users. Respect the Rights of Others. Responsible cannabis users do not violate the rights of others, obser ve accepted standards of courtesy, and respect the preferences of those who wish to avoid cannabis.

Te Kakariki Auckland

without combustion.

> When eating cannabis preparations, start with a small piece and wait an hour before increasing the amount, if desired. The effects of edible cannabis products may be stronger than smoked cannabis. Health ADVICE > Cannabis is best avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women. > Meningitis and other diseases can be transmitted through saliva, so don’t share spit on joints or pipes. Try using your hands like a chillum to hold the joint. > People with a history of severe mental illness should reduce any cannabis use to a level agreed with their clinician, or avoid cannabis altogether. > People on digitalis or other heart medications should consult their doctors before using cannabis. > Never consume cannabis that appears artificially coloured, as it may have been sprayed with a blue toxic poison by the Police. If cannabis has a chemical taste or smell it may contain residue of fertilisers or pesticides. > Do not use any cannabis

that appears contaminated or has mould or fungus on it as it could be very harmful if inhaled. > Be cautious about mixing drugs, as the effect of combining substances is more unpredictable and can increase health risks. Especially use caution when mixing cannabis with depressants such as alcohol as it can make you more out of it than you intended. > Mixing cannabis with tobacco will cause more smoke damage to your lungs, and may make you become nicotine dependent. > Smoking cannabis as a way of dealing with unpleasant feelings or emotions can sometimes intensify these feelings, or stop you sorting out the problem. If you experience anxiety or paranoia prior to using cannabis it may be made worse. Avoid using cannabis to deal with bad trips, as this can often intensify the experience. > While no-one has ever died from using cannabis, drug prohibition causes crime and violence Being arrested is also a significant harm, so make sure you stay safe and know your rights.

Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S



Rationale for urine testing flawed Study finds marijuana use lowers accident risk BY CHRIS FOWLIE


esting urine for cannabis does not improve on-the-job safety. It not only fails to measure impairment, a new study confirms cannabis users have an even lower accident risk than straight people. The entire reasoning for drug testing workers and drivers is based on the assumption that any use will cause impairment and therefore users would endanger themselves and others around them. Now a new study has undermined the rationale for drug testing workers, by showing that the use of cannabis actually reduced the risk of accidents. Investigators at the Luasanne University Hospital in Switzerland assessed the association between the use of cannabis and/or alcohol and the risk of injury among 486 patients aged 16 and older treated for various injuries. They found alcohol use in the six hours prior to injury was associated with a three-fold elevated relative risk compared with no alcohol use, but cannabis use was inversely related to risk of injury, with only 0.33 the risk compared to no use. Cannabis users had less injuries and were actually safer than alcohol drinkers or even straight people. Despite the study’s relatively small sample size, investigators concluded: “The results for cannabis use were quite surprising. ... The present study in fact indicated a ‘protective effect’ of cannabis use in a doseresponse relationship.” A prior case-control study conducted by the University of Missouri also reported an inverse relationship between marijuana use and injury risk, finding, “Self-reported marijuana use in the previous seven days was associated ... with a substantially decreased risk of injury.”

Drug testing in New Zealand

Employers often say they have to drug test workers because of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, but they must also take into account the Privacy Act 1993, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Human Rights Act 1993. Under New Zealand employment law, testing is allowed for: • Pre-employment • Post accident/incident • Just ‘cause’ • Follow-up (after a positive test) • Random or periodic testing for safety-sensitive positions. New Zealand and Australia follow a common standard for urine tests (AS/NZS 4308:2008), which is based on the US Standard. It permits only two methods for analysing urine: EMIT or GCMS. No other type of urine test, and no other type of test such as hair, saliva or sweat, meets the standard because they are unreliable and have a high rate of incorrect positives and negatives. Only EMIT and GCMS urine tests can be used for evidential purposes, and any other type of test should be challenged. EMIT tests are usually conducted at doctor’s surgeries


N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

or medical centres or places like MedLab. GCMS tests are performed by the government-owned ESR, who have close ties with the police and who also analyse samples collected by NZ Drug Detection Agency Ltd, a privately-owned testing outfit run by former cops. A simple on-site “screen” is sometimes used (that often resembles a home pregnancy kit) but these do not meet the standard and must be confirmed with proper lab analysis. Urine tests are made to detect only the presence of THC-COOH, the non-psychoactive metabolite of THC. A cut-off of 50ng/ml is allowed, supposedly to allow for any second hand smoke, but that figure is actually fairly arbitrary and based on little real science.

Evidence-based testing

Drug testing advocates claim it is about safety, but they only look for the inactive metabolite that remains after someone straightens up. THC from marijuana is converted to THC-COOH, which is fat soluble and can stay in the body for several months after use. Because urine analysis does not measure the presence of THC it cannot indicate when cannabis was inhaled or ingested, or whether a person is impaired. If testing really was about on-the-job safety, as they claim, testers could just as easily look for the presence of THC itself, which is present while a person is high. Testers could set a limit for THC based on actual impairment. In 2007 a research team led by Franjo Grotenhermen at from the Nova Institute in Germany showed a THC level in blood of 10ng/ml was equivalent to the legal drink-driving limit of 0.05. The study found that a level below this was not associated with an increased risk of injury. Setting an THC level that is based on evidence and comparable to alcohol impairment would be more effective, just, and more widely accepted by workers and smokers.

Beating the test

The biggest question on the lips of most pot smokers is how long they have to stop in order to give a clean urine test. In anecdotal reports people say it takes anything from 2 days to 6 weeks to be clean, but there has not been a lot of actual research on the subject. In a new study by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse in Maryland, USA, 60 regular cannabis users were monitored during 30 days of abstinence. Their urine was tested for the presence of THC-COOH, the non-psychoactive metabolite of THC. Surprisingly, researchers found there were considerable fluctuations between days with a positive urine test and days with a negative test during this period, rather than a constant decline in THC-COOH concentrations. The average number of days until the first negative test (THC-COOH below 50 ng/ml) was 3.2 days, while the average number of days until the last


positive test was 15.4 days. If you can’t wait that long, many stores now sell products designed to beat urine tests and maintain your privacy. But just as there are two officially sanctioned types of urine test, and others that are not approved, there are specialised products designed to work for each one. Make sure you get the right product for the test you are taking, or it may not work. One of the most widely used products is synthetic urine, that comes with a heating pad and pouring spout. It’s unisex, completely undetectable, and beats all types of urine test. Source: Goodwin RS, et al. J Anl Toxicol 2008;32(8):562-9; Gmel G, et al. BMC Public Health 2009;9(1):40. Declaration of interest: the author is the manager of The Hempstore, which sells products intended to beat urine tests.

Civil rights advice & support See our website: Call NORML: 09 302 5255 or in the South Island: 021 399 822 (Please call weekday daytime only. Our priority is to norml members)

LAWYERS with experience defending cannabis charges. Whangarei:

David Sayes 09 4382154; Nick Leader 09 4384039 Auckland: Peter Winter 09 3797658; Graeme Minchin 025 2122704; Johnnie Kovacevich 09 3093364 or 021 653933; Matt Goodwin 09 3750052 or 0274-999433, Rob Weir 09 3099636; Colin Amery 09 2665910; Marie Dyhrberg 09 3604550; Adam Couchman 09 3733592; Charl Hirschfeld 09 3076997; Maria Pecotic 09 5227399; Owen Harold 09 6304969; Rodney Harrison 09 3034157 Hamilton: Roger Layborne 07 8396288; Emily Coupland 07 8381069 Rotorua: Simon Lance 07 3460796 Palmerston North: Peter Coles 06 3581075 Wairarapa: Peter Broad 021 3264547 or 063798049 Wellington: Michael Appleby 0274 403363; Chris Tennet 021 626878 or 04 4711952; Christchurch: David Ruth 03 3745486 Timaru: Tony Shaw 03 6886056 Invercargill: John Pringle 03 2144069 YouthLaw: free legal advice for people under 25. Ph 09 3096967 or Community Law Centres free advice and discounted representation for people of limited means: www.communitylaw. Legal Aid ph 0800 600 090

More information: | | |

Police Questioning · You have the right to remain silent – including not making a statement or answering questions - but you must give your correct name and address and in some cases date of birth. Talk to a lawyer before saying anything else. · If the Police want you to go with them, ask if you’ve been arrested. · You have the right to talk to your own or a free lawyer on the Bill of Rights list if you’re being questioning about an offence. · If you’re under 17 you have the right to have a supportive adult of your choice with you at the police station. Searches · Always ask why you are being searched. If you don’t want to be searched you must say so. Silence is consent! · The police can only search you, your bag or car if you agree; or they arrest you; or they have a search warrant; or they have reasonable grounds to think you have drugs, or an offensive weapon. · The police can search your home if: you agree; or they have a search warrant; or they have reasonable grounds to think it contains drugs. You are entitled to witness a search but not to obstruct police. · If you are female usually only a policewoman can search you. Arrests, Detainment and Charges · Always ask if you’re being arrested, detained or charged and why. · Don’t run away or resist arrest. · Ask to make a phone call and phone someone you trust. · You don’t have to answer any questions or make a statement. You have the right to talk to a free lawyer. Tell police you want to talk to one on the Bill of Rights list before talking to them. · You have the right to get bail unless there is a good reason for holding you or you have been charged with a very serious offence.

Going To Court · First appearance: you can enter “no plea”, and in the time until your next appearance ask for “full disclosure” of all the evidence against you, and seek legal advice. Check with the court registrar if you can get legal aid or see the duty solicitor at court. · If it is your first time, you may be eligible for the police diversion scheme. Ask your lawyer or the police’s duty sergeant for more information. · Otherwise, you can plead Guilty and accept whatever punishment is given to you, or plead Not Guilty and fight the charges. · If you plead Not Guilty you may have the chance to plea bargain at a pre-trial “status hearing”. Try to strike a deal that gets the charges dropped, or negotiate a reduced sentence. · Preparing your defence: write everything down in as much detail as possible. Go through the police evidence and identify any discrepancies or errors. Search the internet, local law libraries and for relevant cases. Remember · Always stay calm and don’t get smart. Try to get all of the police officer’s names, numbers and police stations. Try to get someone to witness what the police do. · If the police breach your rights tell your lawyer/a duty solicitor or make a police complaint later, rather than argue at the time. Police Complaints · Independent Police Conduct Authority 0800 503 728; YouthLaw, a lawyer or NORML. Write down everything that happened while you remember. Get photos of any injuries and see a doctor. More info Visit your local community law centre or see or

Autumn 2009 N O R M L N e W S Summer 2008/9


Activist Corner

You can help

Legalise cannabis!

it, here Don’t wait for someone else to donow are some things you can do, right fam, by yourself or with your friends and ily. ES > 10 MINUT with your views. The format is

Email your MP or see firstname.lastname@parliament P ailM z/em from your local Buy a copy of NORML News Buying NORML News . magazine store or stationers supporting our law is an easy and effective way of reform efforts. k account: Donate online to our ASB ban 12-3057-0594667-00 page. Join NORML on the opposite ‘Friends of the the join Bus naSupport the Can to the Canna-Bus Bus’ by donating $5 per week -03 account: 12-3057-0594667 Write a letter to the editor Learn your rights on page 47

LESS > 1 HOUReOR an n lear how to hold your own in

Raise your voic z/topic8.html argument at morning Visit your MP on any Saturday ’s review of the sion mis Take part in the Law Com ww see Misuse of Drugs Act r doctor and get their Medical users - talk with you support. your town or Distribute Norml News around networks. - read over Get informed at www.norml.or ne members. onli 65,000 posts from our 7000

OR SO Day concert, > 1 DAY eve nt like a J

Organise an ition, movie showing demonstration, public talk, pet or social evening. from MedSafe. Grow hemp! Apply for a permit the backing of your Apply for a medical permit. Get of Health. r iste doctor then write to the Min and get active up gro on biti Form a local anti-prohi in your area discuss your ideas


A group of drug law reform supporters were so disappointed with the anti-law reform stance taken by the new government that they have begun a unique pot protest: skinny dipping every week until the law is changed - weather permitting, of course. Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne told the New Zealand Drug Foundation-organized Healthy Drug Law Symposium in Wellington that while he had an “open mind” on drug policy, the Government would not consider relaxing the laws on cannabis. Waikuku, Canterbury, resident J’nette Saxby was so incensed by this refusal to consider all options that she decided to organise a “sip and dip” at her local beach, away from the main beach and surf area. She says skinny dipping (“the last form of freedom of expression“) was preferred by the majority of the 20 or so people that indicated interest. “We decided to try a different approach and have a little beach party, perhaps taste a few Waipara wines and dip our toes in the sea,” Ms Saxby said. “Moderation is the order of the day but just to show we are not wowsers, we will drink a small toast in an effort to bring awareness to better and more treatment for drug dependent people.” The group is pushing the Ministry of Health to commit to a New Zealand study on the efficacy of cannabis as pain relief, and they are also concerned for drug addicts who find themselves in prison. Not only is there a severe shortage of rehab beds for people inside, but once addicts are released they must show they are “stable” for three months before they will be admitted to residential care. “Being unstable is one of the characteristics of being an addict,” says Ms Saxby. “So they get no care and just slip between the cracks. Even if they qualify, there is currently a nine month waiting list for young women needing residential treatment. If the government didn’t spend so much money locking people up, they could easily afford treatment for everyone who needs it.”

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N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

Skinny dippers for pot law reform!

The skinny dip is an R18 event and all are welcome. For more information email

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N O R M L N e W S Autumn 2009

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Norml News Autumn 2009