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SUMMER 2008/09 NZ$5.00



Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

New Zealand’s first legal medical marjuana patient

Undercover cop confesses Your guide to new police search powers

Growing Hemp in

New Zealand

Cannabis Culture banned Ganja politics after the election Drug law review: have your say

PLUS: the weeding of the CannaBus 1 Summer 2008/9 N O R M L N e W S

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

NORML NeWS Vol 12 Issue 4: Summer 2008/09




PO Box 3307, Auckland, NZ. Phone: 09 302-5255 Fax: 09 303-1309 Email: Website:



Editor & design: Chris Fowlie Contributors: Harry Cording, Jonathan Rennie, Nandor Tanczos, Brandon Hutchison, Phil Saxby, Abe Gray, StJohn, the Bush Doc and assorted rogues, rascals and recidivist recruits.

Want to contribute? Send us your ideas, letters, photos, cartoons, comments, grow tips, recipes or tasty buds to sample... include a SAE if you would like your contribution returned. Thanks to our advertisers, contributors, distributors, IACM and for hosting our website. Advertising: 09 302 5255 | Printer: APN 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, Switched On Gardener OTOROHANGA 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 Northern Lights seedling HASTINGS Switched On Gardener TAUPO 4 days after germination) 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. of an advertisement does not imply our endorsement of any particular product or claims made by any advertiser.

Contents NEWS Undercover cop confesses The Post-election Plan by Phil Saxby The Weeding of the CannaBus NZ’s first legal medicinal cannabis patient Cannabis Culture banned! by Chris Fowlie Search & Surveillance Powers Bill by Chris Fowlie

4 6 8 12 18 46

FEATURES Drug law review by Phil Saxby LEAP’s Jerry Paradis talks to Jonathan Rennie Growing Hemp in NZ by Nandor Tanczos More Auckland Cannabis Cup photos

22 26 32 44


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

5 13 16 40 47 48 49 50


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




Positive vibrations


hings are looking up. There’s a new man in the White House. We have a new Government and NORML has already developed a new plan in response. The very first medical marijuana patients have been approved in New Zealand. The Misuse of Drugs Act is being fundamentally reviewed. This means we now have legal hemp and the beginnings of legal med-pot, and overall cannabis arrests are down 40 per cent from ten years ago. That’s good cause to celebrate. But on the downside, more people were busted for pot last year, while arrests for methamphetamine dropped. The police seriously need to re-think their priorities. Is this what the public wants? Speaking of which, this issue we present the low-down on the Law Commission’s review of the Misuse of Drugs Act, and your guide to the Police’s new search and surveillance powers. We also have an interview with Canadian Judge Jerry Paridis, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Nandor Tanczos presents a special feature covering all you need to know to grow hemp in New Zealand. Plus we have an interview with Tigi Ness, the elder statesman of New Zealand reggae. As the summer festival season approaches, this is a good time to learn your rights. Don’t wait until after you get busted! Five minutes now could save you a lot longer in the cells. Check it out on page 47. Next issue, I’ll be reporting from the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. Until then - enjoy!

Chris Fowlie Editor 4

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

Undercover cop who lied in court now wants to help


into police undercover work in 2004, has been hired by Police National Headquarters to independently investigate the allegations. See the forums at for more info.

Patrick O’Brien says he is racked with guilt and has offered to assist anyone he helped put inside. “In every case I lied to the courts and I lied to the juries to obtain convictions against my targets... Telling lies was easy - policemen don’t tell lies’ - and my targets never stood a chance.” In a confession letter he sent to chief justice Dame Sian Elias, he said all but one of the juries returned a guilty verdict. The stress and shame of the work eventually broke O’Brien. He resigned from the force and fled New Zealand. “I am nearly 60 years old now, and in what time is left to me, intend correcting the wrong I have done.” Police National Headquarters received the letter last Christmas Eve, but an investigation did not begin until February, and has only recently been made public. In his confession letter O’Brien said he intended to “start knocking on doors and apologise” to those he had helped to wrongfully convict. “Should any target wish to seek remedy for my wrong, I will assist in whatever way I can.” Wellington lawyer Bruce Squire, QC, who also investigated allegations

Prohibition kills

former undercover cop who put over 150 people in jail has admitted he lied on oath every time he took the stand, and often tampered with evidence.

The recent murder of another undercover cop was a sad but inevitable consequence of current drug laws. Prohibition creates a lucrative black market that is controlled by force rather than rule of law - just like with Al Capone in the 1930’s. Sergeant Don Wilkinson was killed in September after being discovered planting a tracking device on a car outside a suspected P lab, joining a growing casualty list from the War on Drugs.

More pot busts New Zealand continues to have the world’s highest cannabis arrest rate, with another Kiwi toker arrested every 35 minutes. The latest Police crime statistics show they have put more effort into easy busts of pot smokers and less effort into hard drugs like methamphetamine (P). Cannabis arrests were up 5.8% in the year to 30 June 2008, but arrests for “new drugs” fell 11%. There were 15,288 arrests for cannabis, with 76% for personal use or possession. The only good news is that the cannabis busts are still 40% down on the peak of 25,293 arrests in 1998/99.



You can help

Legalise cannabis!

Cannabis “safer than alcohol or tobacco” By Brandon Hutchison

A landmark report by a group of top scientists commissioned by the UK-based Beckley Foundation, has found cannabis is less harmful than tobacco or alcohol.

Authored by world-leading cannabis researchers, Australians Wayne Hall and Simon Lenton, and drug policy experts Robin Room and Peter Reuter, the review considers harms and benefits not only of cannabis use but also of policies and laws. “Although cannabis can have a negative impact on health, including mental health, in terms of relative harms it is considerably less harmful than alcohol or tobacco,” said the report. “Many of the harms associated with cannabis use are the result of prohibition itself, particularly the social harms arising from arrest and imprisonment.” Among its conclusions are strong support for a regulated market, and the possibility of denouncing the cannabis sections of international drug control treaties. While acknowledging harms from cannabis use including respiratory problems, increased risk of psychotic symptoms in predisposed individuals, and possible driving impairment, the paper concluded that prohibition and policing are ineffective in reducing use, and that the harms from prohibition are out of proportion to the harm it unsuccessfully attempts to prevent. It is hoped that important findings from academia such as this will inform and guide important events in drug policy. The Beyond 2008 initiative had 300 NGOs from around the globe lobby the UN to change its emphasis from law enforcement to harm reduction and to respect drug user rights. Here in New Zealand the first ever review of the 33 year old Misuse of Drugs Act is being perfomed by NZ’s Law Commission (see article). A discussion document is expected from them in March 2009.

More info: see;

Don’t wait for someone else to do it, here are some things you can do, right now, by yourself or with your friends and family. > 10 MINUTES Email

your MP with your views. The format is firstname.lastname@parliament or see Buy a copy of NORML News from your local magazine store or stationers . Buying NORML News is a quick and anonymous way of supporting our law reform efforts. Donate online to our ASB ban k account: 12-3057-0594667-00 Join NORML on page 49 Support the Canna-Bus join the ‘Friends of the Bus’ by donating $5 per week to the Canna-Bus account: 12-3057-0594667-03 Write a letter to the editor Learn your rights on page 47


Raise your voice learn how to hold your own in an argument at z/topic8.html Visit your MP on any Saturday morning Take part in the Law Commis sion’s review of the Misuse of Drugs Act - see ww Medical users - talk with you r doctor and get their support. See our article on pag e 12. Distribute Norml News around your town or networks. Get informed at www.norml.or - read over 55,000 forum posts from 600 0 online members.


Organise an event like a J Day concert, demonstration, public talk, pet ition, movie showing or social evening. Grow hemp! Apply for a permit from MedSafe. Apply for a medical permit. Get the backing of your doctor then write to the Ministe r of Health. Form a local anti-prohibition group and get active in your area discuss your ideas Summer 2008/9 N O R M L N e W S


Mother’s Finest

NZ law reform

The Post-Election Plan

By Phil Saxby



he 2008 election opens a new chapter in NORML’s campaign for cannabis law reform. Not only has the government changed; several long-time law reformers are no longer in Parliament. Nandor Tanczos left Parliament earlier this year and Tim Barnett retired this election. These two bold changes – such as providing freedom is pleased to support candidates from any MPs have given NORML and cannabis law from fear for the hundreds of thousands of political party who support sensible drug reform very considerable support over the policies, the ALCP candidates deserve responsible adult users of cannabis. last nine years, against some opposition Is National really committed to freedom? special mention this year. Their electionfrom within their own parties. We will find out over the next three night total of 7589 was an increase on Elections do matter, as was shown in years! 2005, and a higher number of votes than 2002 when the huge momentum towards NORML has made some gains over the was achieved by one sitting MP who cannabis law reform was sidetracked by past 9 years. Hemp farming is now an had formed his own party: Philip Field’s Labour’s deal with Peter Dunne’s United accepted, legal, fact. This year, the first Pacific Party. Another sitting MP, Gordon Party. Then in 2005, when Labour wanted medicinal cannabis use commenced for Copeland, did only a little better with his to form an alliance with the Greens, which New Zealanders, with a small number new Kiwi Party. would have put drug law reform back on the These two new parties tried to mobilise of Sativex patients. The door has been agenda, their alliance could only muster 57 opened through which other New Zealand support around Christian values – or votes out of 121. Once again, Labour turned medicinal users could in future gain access rather, around the conservative creeds of to Peter Dunne and United (plus NZ First) to other forms of medicinal cannabis traditional male-dominated Christianity for its majority in Parliament. approved overseas. These gains are and the fundamentalist fringe. For a while, United has not been rewarded for its not likely to be lost by the change of United fished in the same waters, opposing public campaigns against any change in civil unions, the legalisation of prostitution government. the cannabis laws. In fact, the United Party The election was the fifth MMP election, and recently the so-called “anti-smacking” crashed from 8 seats to 3 seats in 2005, and the fifth for the Aotearoa Legalise changes to the Crimes Act. Yet, once again, and crashed again in 2008 to one single Cannabis Party (ALCP). While NORML these conservative groups did not attract representative. Another prohibitionist much support. party, New Zealand First, has National picked up most of fared no better, going from 13 these votes, catching the mood seats in 2002 to 0 today. for change. Yet John Key and This election has put National his National Party colleagues and ACT in the driving seat. Both are no Sarah Palin. They did not parties attacked what they said set out to energise the Christian were the “Nanny state” policies Stop arresting cannabis support the introduction of DutchRight, as she did in the USA. of the Labour-led government. users: the Government should style cannabis cafes. Overseas In this country, conservative Does this mean they will look immediately declare a moratorium experience shows cannabis law Ch ristians are not a major kindly on proposals for drug on arresting those who choose to changes have not been associated force, and National won by law reform, that allow adults to use cannabis. Allow medicinal use with increased use. appealing to the political middle take personal responsibility for - let doctors decide, not ground. It’s clear that the new Reasonable their actions? police and politicians. Prime Minister does not want restrictions: as with ACT members, including to push anything that looks Decriminalisation: alcohol consumption, leader Rod ney Hide, have “extremist”. remove all penalties for cannabis use should spoken out strongly against The new demographics of the use, possession and be limited to adults. prohibition, in keeping with National’s vote – younger, more growing of cannabis by Driving or operating ACT’s freedom and personal urban and more liberal – seems adults and the non-profit heavy machinery r e s p o n si bi l it y p r i n c iple s . to be reflected in many of the National could make history by transfer of small amounts. The while impaired should remain newly elected MPs. This gives joining the international trend draconian search provisions of prohibited. some hope that evidence-based, towards sensible, evidencethe Misuse of Drugs Act should be pragmatic policy changes are Harm minimisation: policies based drug laws. removed and criminal records for possible, even in the face of some should discourage irresponsible Voters wa nted a cha nge, cannabis offences wiped. resistance from traditionalists. use, including use by adolescents. and National has benef ited After all, National campaigned Regulation: a commercial market Prevention is most effective where from the mood for change, for change, and won. NORML for marijuana will always exist. It is cannabis is viewed from a public without having made many has a few suggestions to make! better to regulate that market than health perspective, instead of a specific commitments. It has leave it to organised crime. We criminal justice perspective. an opportunity to make some

NORML’s priorities for

Pot law reform


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


“I’m not interested in talking about that...”

Delegates elect new board, get harassed


OR M L N Z held its a n nua l conference and AGM in Wellington on election weekend, with some attendees experiencing the long arm of the law. Activists and members from around the country gathered at the Tapu te Ranga marae in Island Bay to discuss the past year, plan the future, and watch the election results unfold. As it became clear National and Act would form the next Government, it was noted having a new administration could encourage more people to do something about changing the law. Many people were justifiably disillusioned after the lack of action resulting from the 2001-3 cannabis inquiry, but the upcoming Law Commission review as well as the new Government meant it was important for those effected by the law to once again step forward. We need to show how real people are harmed by prohibition. Mov ing into th is new phase, we identified NORML is well placed to further our aims on two levels: to motivate and feed the grass roots from the bottom up, and to provide information and policy expertise from the top down. A new boa rd was elected at the conference (see box). The most significant change is that former president Chris Fowlie is now concentrating on running Norml News, and Phil Saxby is the new president and spokesperson. Mr Saxby was formerly convenor of the Electoral Reform Coalition, which led the campaign for MMP and local body reform. While Phil brings a wealth of experience and expertise to NORML’s

NORML’S NEW EXECUTIVE Phil Saxby (president), Adrian Picot (treasurer), Paula Lambert (secretary), Chris Fowlie (editor), Ken Morgan (bus coordinator), Danyl Strype (communications), Jonathan Rennie (membership coordinator), Brandon Hutchison (merchandise/IT)

campaign team, he will need the support of a committed and enthusiastic team to be truly effective. Life membership was given to Wellington scientist, author and broadcaster Dave Currie in recognition of the work he has done. A founding member of NORML in 1979 and a member of the board of directors for the following decade, Dave runs the Drug Sanity show on access radio and authored the book Marijuana Facts and the Case for Legalisation (buy it on page 49). Thanks for all your work Dave - we appreciate it! After the conference the CannaBus headed to Oriental Parade so we could enjoy the sunshine and make some noise. Not long after, three officers arrived and immediately asked Danyl Strype if he had consumed any cannabis. “I’m not interested in talking about that, I want to talk about law reform.” They were fishing for an excuse to start searching people, but weren’t getting any bites. They gave up and left. The altercation with overzealous law enforcement officials was a timely reminder of why we work to end cannabis prohibition - and the benefit of knowing your rights. Summer 2008/9 N O R M L N e W S


NZ law reform

The weeding of Maryjane the Canna-Bus


ore civil disobedience than civil union, NORML’s Bus Tour Coordinator has shown his commitment to the cause by marrying the Canna-Bus.

Billed as the “weeding of the century”, the ceremony was held recently at The Daktory, the Bus’ new headquarters in New Lynn, Auckland. Ken Morgan, knows as Dakta Green to his daktavist friends, says it was love at first sight when he met Maryjane. They embarked on a whirlwind tour of New Zealand, travelling the length and breadth of the country promoting the virtues of cannabis law reform. The “4:20 to Dunsterdam” tour was a roaring success, but left the crew broke and exhausted, and the Bus without a warrant. The winter was spent getting Maryjane roadworthy again, and securing a new base of operations. Both aims have been accomplished, and Maryjane celebrated by heading to Wellington for the NORML conference, to plan out a summer of “daktivism”. The Daktory is now open as a member-only lounge and club. People who support the bus can join the Friends Of The Bus club by making a $5 weekly (or $200 yearly) donation to the bus account. For more info see or email



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

Join the Friends of the Bus: Maryjane the CannaBus needs some friends to keep her on the road. Set up a $5 weekly autopayment into the Bus Account: 123057-0594667-03 and you too can be a ‘friend of the bus’.

Dakta Green & maryjane

Dunsterdam: we’re here to stay! By Abe Gray

Activists in the world’s southernmost cannabis friendly city have continued their struggle for cannabis law reform, gaining several notable victories in recent months.

The police and the University had cracked dow n on the week ly 4:20 protests in an attempt to intimidate activists into silence. Thanks to massive media attention it didn’t go quite as they planned, and both the University and the Police were forced to back down. They‘ve devoted little attention to Otago NORML members and the 4:20 protests since. We then had to overcome prejudice and hatred from some of our own fellow students, annoyed by the attention we had been getting, and emboldened by the heavy handed actions toward our group. It culminated in late September at the Otago University Student’s Association’s Special General Meeting which saw both pro- and anti-NORML motions on the agenda. A large turnout of supporters from both sides made it one of the largest (and most tense) meetings in the Association’s history. In the end no motions were passed by any side, but the crowd voted with a strong majority to retain the existing OUSA motions supporting cannabis law reform and smoking on campus as an act of protest. It was a message to their representatives that Otago students will continue to smoke cannabis as an act of defiance until New Zealand’s unjust prohibition laws are overturned.

Some especially staunch supporters are establishing a successful front in the war on prohibition where it really counts: the courts. Recently Dunedin activist Paul McMullan was found not guilty of cannabis possession, after a trial in which the phrase ‘this law is bullshit’ was uttered more than once. The judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to prove the cannabis plant was his, as it was in a common area of the house shared by multiple people. Representing himself, Paul had been charged with cultivation but it was downgraded to possession after he elected to be tried by a jury (the cops hate that). This strategy has worked for several southern activists. One Otago NORML member had charges of possession of utensils and a Class B substance (hashish) dropped after asking for a jury trial. In my case stemming from the arrests at our Market Day stall, the Police refused to plea bargain, but were then forced to drop my utensils charge when I asked to have a jury. Campaigning for the ALCP, Julian Crawford has been hitting churches and rotary meetings explaining the virtues of cannabis and the problems with prohibition to the most conventional of crowds, and he’s been getting strong support from some of the most unlikely places. Look forward to more law reform action out of Dunsterdam in the future: we’re here to stay.

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


Rasta the future

a conversation with Tigilau Ness of Unity Pacific By Chris Fowlie


he patriarch of New Zealand reggae is a thoughtful man whose songs reflect a thirty-year struggle for equality, human rights, and his Rastafarian faith. Tigilau Ness has long supported NORML’s campaign for marijuana legalisation. His band Unity Pacific has performed at J Day and played all of the Auckland One Love celebrations for Bob Marley’s birthday. Tigi appeared with his son, hip hop star Che Fu, in Norml News way back in Winter 1995. A founder of the Polynesian Panthers civil rights action group in the 1970’s, Tigi’s strategy has always been one of peaceful non-violent resistance. He was arrested at Bastion Point and was one of the few to do time for his Springbok protests, serving nine months of a 12 month sentence. The incarceration was a temporary set back on his musical journey, but says he wouldn’t have it any other way. “If you believe in it, then gee, be prepared to die for it.” It helped make him the Rasta man he is today. Central to Tigi’s faith is the sacramental use of ganja. “Herb is the healing of the nations. It’s written in the bible, right there in Genesis 1. God made the earth and


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

everything in it, and herb - it expressly says that - herb for man’s use. Not abuse, but use. “If we were to delve back historically, people have always used marijuana, the herb, the tree of knowledge, that’s always been there. Just that in our society, in our time, it’s been made out as evil. If it was evil the Bible would say so - and I go by what the Bible says!” A key event in forming Tigi’s views and faith was the visit of Bob Marley to these shores in 1979. Tigi’s dreads were still freshly plaited as he raced out to the airport to meet the entourage. Later that day they watched the powhiri at Parnell’s White Heron Hotel. As the reggae superstar bent down to pick up the leaf, the overcast sky cleared and the warm sun beamed down upon them. Everyone looked at each other, says Tigi. “Something special just happened. I got goose bumps and thought this is it. All in, or not at all.” Tigi’s life changed that day. He became a Rasta, formed a reggae band and embarked on a remarkable journey. His son Che was taken on stage by Bob Marley during his Western Springs concert. Almost thirty years later, Tigi will perform on the same stage as Bob’s son Ziggy at Raggamuffin in Rotorua.

Tigi says being a Rastaman is not just about getting high. “It’s a spiritual thing. It’s that powerful that you acknowledge it and give thanks. If you don’t, it can do something to your spirit.” To avoid this ca n nabis users should “recognise and acknowledge where it came from.” Tigi believes we need to make profound changes in society - and that change will only come when true leaders step up to make it happen. Ask Tigi why after 30 years the law still hasn’t changed and his reply is “When you look at who is benefiting from it, there’s your answer there.” He says the key to ending cannabis prohibition is getting more New Zealand celebrities to publicly make a stand. “It has to be somebody high profile before the rest will make a move. Someone you really like or you believe in. Otherwise it will take too long. People of high profile should do things more, They should stand up for issues more.” So what’s stopping them? “The fear started with people like Larry Morris. One joint, and he was done for good. For life. Same thing happened with Peter Tosh, so nobody wants to go through that experience. It’s that fear. It’s not justified. Sure, lawyers, doctors, we know they all do it, but they’re afraid. We won’t get them standing up because of that fear factor.” It doesn’t make sense. “Why are we so hard on something that is just like lettuce?” Ask this rasta musician what the law should be, and you’ll get a simple answer: “For a start just decriminalise it and don’t make criminals out of people who use it recreationally or medicinally. We’re not crims. Teachers, lawyers, you name it. Hard working people. Decriminalise it for a start, then more education. Research into it. All the good aspects, and the bad aspects. Alcohol is a good comparison - if you overdo it it’s no good for you. Criminal law enforcement only makes it worse. “Looking over your shoulder, that has to have an effect on the whole country’s psycho. What’s good for you is illegal. That’s what we call confusion that’s Babylon! Unity Pacific performs at Raggamuffin Festival in Rotorua on 7 February 2009, the day after Bob Marley’s birthday on Waitangi Day.


Ganja Culture

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



Sativex approved for NZ’s first legal cannabis user in over 80 years The Government has approved the use of Sativex, a potent painrelieving mouth spray made from real cannabis. This long-overdue admission that cannabis is an effective medicine and can be legally regulated is a huge victory for the cannabis law reform movement. Peter Vickers is New Zealand’s first legal cannabis user since it was prohibited here in 1927. Back then, cannabis-based medicines were commonly used. Peter injured his back years ago and has been on hard core prescription painkillers ever since. He tried cannabis and found it was more effective, but over the years he was busted several times. Late last year Mr Vickers asked his specialist at the Nelson Pain Clinic to apply for permission to use Sativex, a mouth spray made from cannabis. Sativex contains equal amounts of dronabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), in an alcohol base. It is already available in the UK, Canada and Spain. Section 29 of the Medicines Act allows the Minister to authorise the use of “unapproved medicines” - any medicine that has been approved by an overseas regulatory agency. In a briefing paper to former Minister of Health Pete Hodgson, officials said there was “sufficient evidence of safety and efficacy of cannabis in some medical conditions” to support consideration of compassionate use. Hodgon invited patients to apply to him for permission to use it, and Peter took him up on the offer. In his case ACC is picking up the bill of around $700 per month. Having the cannabis extract approved is a huge victory for patients - and for the rest of us. It’s a long-


HAVE YOUR SAY Should patients be arrested, be prescribed pharmaceutical-grade cannabis extracts like Sativex, or allowed to grow their own? > Whatever you think, get involved in the debate. > Write to your MP and ask them to support the Greens’ Medicinal Cannabis Bill. Email your MP at emailMP > Write to the Health Select Committee, asking them to support NORML’s medical marijuana petition. > Medical users: contact us for advice or to help with our campaign. Talk to your doctor about getting Sativex. overdue admission that cannabis has beneficial uses. It shows cannabis can be used responsibly, and can be legally regulated and controlled. It will help break stereotypes about cannabis users, and reduce stigmatisation. And if overseas experience is anything to go by, it will “deglamorise” cannabis and lead to a reduction in teenage use. At a parliamentary hearing in July, NORML said that Sativex worked well for many patients but it should not be the only option. Patients should be able to choose to grow

their own, or nominate someone else to grow it for them. Alternatively, the Government could supply them with herbal marijuana, like in Canada and the Netherlands. In fact, Government-approved herbal marijuana from either of these countries could be authorised here under the same “unapproved medicines” provisions that have allowed Sativex. Many patients say they prefer natural herbal cannabis over extracts or synthetic pharmaceuticals, because it’s cheap and easy to grow, and inhalation means instant effect and

The Greens’ Medicinal Cannabis Bill will legalise the medicinal use of cannabis for

patients who have the approval of their doctor. The bill covers any condition “where the use of cannabis 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. For more info see druglawreform

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

Sativex easy dosage. Patients can avoid smoke by eating, drinking or vaporising their medi-weed. Marijuana has 60 active compounds, so different strains have different effects. Patients can select a strain to best suit their condition. By comparison Sativex has only 2 active ingredients in an alcohol base, which some patients report can burn their mouth. GW Pharmaceuticals makes the extract from thousands of cannabis plants they grow in the south of England under Home Office license. The original genetics for the plants comes from the Sensi Seed Bank, winner of countless Cannabis Cups. Now that the first Kiwi patients have been approved, GWP has applied for permission to market Sativex here, so patients could get it on prescription from their doctor, rather than having to apply to the Minister of Health for a special exemption. Rose Wall, the ministry’s quality and safety manager, said the application to market Sativex as a medicine was still being considered by Medsafe. New Zealand patients who want to find out more should see the GWP website and talk to their GP or specialist. Now some patients have been approved, it should be easier for others. More info: www.gwpharm. com/sativex6.asp or see www. to download the application form.


California’s medical road map The top lawman in California has issued an 11-page “road map” to help legal pot smokers avoid arrest. The state has more than 200,000 patients who legally use marijuana to combat the effects of HIV, cancer, glaucoma and other conditions. Armed with a doctor’s recommendation they can buy pot from dispensaries, set up after voters approved medical marijuana in a 1996 referendum. But there is massive conflict between the liberal state and tough federal laws. Under the new guidelines, issued by Attorney General Jerry Brown, qualified patients and caregivers may possess up to 8 ounces (about 230 grams) of dried marijuana, and maintain up to six mature plants or 12 immature plants, unless a doctor recommends more. In accordance with state law SB420, local counties can continue to set their own limits. Several counties limit garden sizes rather than plant numbers, since yield is ultimately determined by area. San Diego allows 24 plants in a 64ft2 indoor garden, while Humboldt County allows a 100ft2 garden. Brown told local law-enforcement officers not to arrest patients under federal law if their conduct is legal under state law. The directive also states that a properly run dispensary operating as a non-profit is legal. More than 400 medical marijuana dispensaries operate in Los Angeles alone. For more information see www.canorml. org/medical_marijuana or www. safeaccessnow

Yoda x BB

Plant numbers Voter initiatives have made medical marijuana legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Each state has a different way of doing it, and Federal law still criminalises medical use, despite also supplying a small group of patients with Govenment-grown cannabis. After a decade of confusion over how much patients are allowed to have according to Washington State’s medical cannabis law, the Health Department recently defined a twomonth supply of medical cannabis as 24 ounces (about 680 grams) of usable cannabis and up to 15 plants. the latest research is at

Aussies want medi-weed too An Australian government survey found 68.6 per cent support for “a change in legislation permitting the use of marijuana for medical purposes.” The 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey interviewed more than 23,000 Australians over the age of 12 about their drug use and attitudes toward various drug policy positions. Women were slightly more likely to support

allowing medicinal cannabis than men. The New South Wales state government announced earlier this year it would begin a trial to prescribe the cannabis extract Sativex to help treat serious or terminally ill patients with a range of illnesses. The poll result shows people want more options than just the mouth spray. Source:

Summary of known medical uses Cannabis or its derivatives are valuable aids in the treatment of a wide range of conditions: • Pain relief - particularly nerve pain and arthritis; • Appetite stimulant especially for patients suffering from cancer, HIV, AIDS wasting syndrome, anorexia or dementia; • Anti-nausea for patients undergoing chemotherapy or other debilitating treatments; • Easing muscle spasms in neurological disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis or spinal cord injury; • Neuroprotection and protection against some types of malignant tumours; • Plus a host of other conditions including glaucoma, Alzheimer’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, gliomas, gastro intestinal disorders, Hepatitis C, hypertension, osteoporosis, pruritis and Tourette’s syndrome.

Support for change A poll conducted by TV3 in Nov 2006 found 63% support for “legalising medicinal cannabis”. • A similar poll run on the TV3 website in July 2008 found 74% support. A 2003 survey of 500 New Zealand doctors by the Green Party revealed that the more knowledge a doctor holds, the more likely they are to support the use of medicinal cannabis. • One in five doctors knew they had patients already using cannabis medicinally; • 47 per cent had patients who had discussed the option of using cannabis; • 32 per cent would consider prescribing medicinal cannabis. Summer 2008/9 N O R M L N e W S 13


New cannabis constituents Researchers at the University of Mississippi have isolated six new non-cannabinoid constituents from a high potency cannabis variety. In addition, two known substances (chrysoeriol and 6-prenylapigenin) were detected for the first time in cannabis. Some of these compounds displayed weak to strong properties against bacteria, leishmania, and pathogens causing malaria. Source: Radwan MM et al. Phytochemistry. 2008 Sep 4

Brain power The neurocognitive performance of heavy and occasional cannabis users was tested after cannabis use. Both groups received single doses of placebo joints and real joints. The occasional cannabis users were significantly impaired by THC, but the performance of heavy cannabis users was not affected, except in a test on reaction time. Researchers concluded that “cannabis use history strongly determines the behavioural response to single doses of THC.” Source: Ramaekers JG, et al. J Psychopharmacol 2008 Aug 21.

Neuroprotection In studies with rats, in which a stroke was induced by blocking an ar ter y in the brain, the neuroprotective effects of the endocannabinoids anandamide (AEA - the body’s own version of THC) and palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) were investigated. An infarct reduction of up to 35 per cent was observed following injection with PEA and of up to 26 per cent with AEA. Authors noted that “both endocannabinoids may have the potential to treat acute stroke.” Source: Schomacher M, et al. Brain Res. 2008 Sep 18

the latest research is at


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Dutch Court allows cannabis cultivation for medicinal use The Dutch Supreme Court has upheld a landmark ruling making it legal for patients to grow their own cannabis for medical necessity. The court ruled that “exceptional circumstances” meant an “illegal scheme can be justified when committed out of necessity.” The government had directed the public prosecutor’s office to challenge a 2006 appeal court’s ruling which allowed MS sufferer Wim Moorlag to grow cannabis in order to alleviate his symptoms. In Holland the sale and consumption of small quantities of cannabis are permitted in licensed coffee shops. Adults can purchase up to five grams per day. However, growing cannabis remains illegal, so coffeeshops - and patients - must get their supplies from the illicit market.

Moorlag had been growing cannabis in order to ensure a private supply, when he was busted in 2004. The MS sufferer needs three grams of cannabis per day, and told authorities he was compelled to produce his own, because cannabis purchased in coffee shops could contain fungi and bacteria especially harmful to MS sufferers. Following the bust, the Dutch government called for tenders to produce pharmaceutical-grade cannabis for distribution through pharmacies. This scheme still runs today, and the cannabis is tested to ensure it is free of mould or fungi. Source: AFP 16 Sept 2008

Sri Lanka to grow it’s own ayurvedic medical marijuana Facing a lack of fresh weed for use in traditional Ayurvedic medical preparations, a Sri Lankan government ministry wants to be exempted from laws that have made marijuana illegal on the Indian Ocean island since the 1890s. the goal of healing “We are interested Senasekara, the body and mind. in getting some head of stateFresh marijuana is approval to grow run Bandaranaike fried in ghee (a form some cannabis Memorial Ayurvedic of clarified butter) with government Research Institute in sponsorship, but there and used in about 18 Colombo. “You can’t different traditional must be controls. It get the fresh juice ayurveda medicines is under study,” said from old cannabis. for treating a wide Asoka Malimage, What we get now is variety of ailments. In secretary at the the powdered form Ministry of Indigenous Sri Lanka, ayurveda and it’s not effective.” Medicine, which has practitioners The Institute is outnumber Westernproposed growing making marijuana trained doctors. 4,000 kg of marijuana -based ayurvedic At the moment they per year on a 20 acre preparations to treat get some supplies farm. high cholesterol, from the courts, after Ayurveda is a diabetes, rheumatoid growers get busted by arthritis and skin traditional form of the police. medicine with roots discolorations, and But the problem in the early Hindu era soon will formulate with that weed is that which makes wide one for treating it is old and dried out, cataracts. use of herbs and natural remedies, with said Dr. Dayangani Source: Reuters


Cannabis & psychosis

Cannabinoids fight antibioticresistant MRSA “superbug” In today’s world, it often seems we’re surrounded by toxic microbes with exotic names. So it’s good to know cannabinoids are potent germ killers, with a new study showing they may be useful against drug-resistant staph infections. Researchers in Italy and the UK tested five major cannabinoids on different strains of MRSA (methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus), and all five showed potent germ-killing activity in lab tests. MRSA, like other staph infections, can be spread through casual physical contact or through contaminated objects. It is commonly spread between people who have close contact with each other, such as members of a sports team or in a health care setting. The five tested cannabinoids were cannabidiol (CBD), cannabichromene, cannabigerol (CBG), dronabinol (THC),

and cannabinol (CBN). Some synthetic cannabinoids also showed germkilling capability in the tests. The cannabinoids kill bacteria in a different way to traditional antibiotics, so they might bypass bacterial resistance. New antibacterials are urgently needed, but only one new class of antibacterial has been introduced in the last 30 years. The researchers called for further study of the antibacterial uses of marijuana. Source: Appendino, G. J Nat Prod, 2008; v71:p1427

UK Govt changes law, despite evidence Citing an increased cannabis potency since making cannabis a nonarrestable offence in 2004, the UK Home Secretary has confirmed pot smokers will face tougher penalties. Jacqui Smith said cannabis will be made Class B from 26 January 2009, against the recommendation of the Government’s own experts. Those caught for the first time would still get a warning, on a second occasion they face a fine of £80, or arrest if caught a third time. But according to official data, the

potency of seized cannabis actually dropped from an average of 12.7 per cent THC to 9.5 per cent from 2004 to 2007. The Guardian newspaper said the findings cast “doubt on one of the government’s key arguments for reclassifying the drug again from class C to class B.” Teenage use had also dropped in the UK after it was moved to Class C, showing the latest law change is more about politics than evidence. For more info see http://drugs.

The dilemma for “reefer madness” advocates is that global cannabis use has increased dramatically over recent decades, but no country with high rates of use has experienced an increase in rates of psychosis. Modern research suggests any link between cannabis and psychosis is genetic: a very small proportion of the population has two mutations at a gene called COMT, and if these people also happen to use cannabis heavily at a young age, they carry a high risk of developing psychosis. The rest of the population do not share this risk. In a recent study, researchers at the University of Nottingham, UK, found that in young people with a genetic high risk for schizophrenia, cannabis use was associated with mental health disturbance. But they also found that in teenagers with ADHD cannabis use was associated with a trend to increased organization and decreased hyperactivity/inattention., and concluded cannabis might have a positive effect on these people. While THC can increase the symptoms of schizophrenia, several studies have shown another natural compound found in cannabis called cannabidiol (CBD) works in the opposite way. Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil recently found CBD was effective in the treatment of psychotic symptoms of patients with Parkinson’s disease. No adverse effects were observed, and researchers concluded that “CBD may be effective, safe and well tolerated for the treatment of the psychosis in Parkinson’s.” Other recent studies have shown cannabinoids can improve memory, reduce depression and spur the development of new brain cells. Sources: González-Pinto A, et al. J Clin Psychiatry. 2008 Jul 29; Zuardi A, et al. J Psychopharmacol. 2008 Sep 18; Hollis C, et al. Schizophr Res. 2008 Sep 1.

the latest research is at Summer 2008/9 N O R M L N e W S



Prize offered for GE-Marijuana Scientists to develop CANNA-foods American activists are offering a cash prize to the first person to develop a genetically modified plant containing the active ingredients of cannabis. Based on the “X Prize” that has spurred companies to develop rocketships, the Marijuana Prize challenge is to implant the genetic material that produces cannabinoids into any common food plant. The prize is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. Suitable plants include those that produce essential oils such as citrus, mint, ginger, almonds, sage, and many vegetables, as well as yeast, lactobacillus (lawn grass) and some bacteria. The plants created must product medicinal cannabinoids in edible form with a minimum therapeutic dose. They must also be fertile and capable of producing succeeding generations 16

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with the same cannabinoid characteristics. Results must be published and verified by independent labs. The group’s spokesperson, Clifford Schaffer, said the goal is achievable with today’s genetic engineering technology, and THCproducing plants could be available to the public within five years. The potential benefits are enormous. There are no laws in the US against genetically modified plants containing cannabinoids - and by the time any law was passed, it could be too late. Along with the potential “smokeless” benefits for medical marijuana patients, subversive ganja foods could mean the end of cannabis prohibition. How woould police prove the gardeners aren’t growing killer weed in disguise? For more info see www.


Photo: rob Clarke

US drug law reform

Nimbin hemp activists evicted by Police


he town of Nimbin, in northern New South Wales, is the home of a cannabis community that has been battling prohibition for over 30 years. Recently two of its iconic centres, the HEMP Bar and the Nimbin Hemp Museum, were forced to close by police.

The cannabis trade is a dominant force in Nimbin and closing the HEMP Bar and Museum will make little difference. It will, however, have a major impact on tourism. The Nimbin Museum is a world-famous cultural icon, encapsulating the history of the alternative community that has grown in the area since the early 1970s. A HEMP Bar spokesman said “We wanted to take a world leading approach, to create the model which would be the envy of the world. We did it anyway, and it worked way beyond expectations! People from all cultures and countries on earth showed their support for our stance on law reform.” Museum curator Michael Balderstone said “We offered to close the Museum for a month to see what difference it makes to drug dealing in the village. It is offensive for police to suggest we haven’t tried our hardest to keep dealing out of the Museum since we began here over twenty years ago. It has been an impossible chore. We have never stopped policing the dealing in and around the Museum, as the police Mardi grass themselves are rarely here.”

Police have consistently thwarted the efforts of locals to establish a regulated cannabis market. Their War On Drugs includes CCTV surveillance cameras and nine permanent officers in Nimbin - a huge number for the size of the town. But increased policing of cannabis has created a new illegal pharmaceutical trade, supplying pills that are harder to detect. The landlords of the buildings did not oppose the closures after they were threatened with the Restricted Premises Act 1943. The Museum’s landlord lives in Sydney and had never been to Nimbin. Police are telling any new tenants to install surveillance cameras and are demanding access to this footage at any time. The HEMP Bar formally ended its live protest at 4.20 on a recent Friday afternoon. The protest will continue outside the premises, with talk of a barefoot walk to carry Nimbin’s famous Big Joint to Canberra. At the time of writing, negotiations were under way for a new lease of the Museum premises, and the Australian HEMP Party had proposed taking over the HEMP Bar. The Nimbin Mardi Grass, pictured above and held every year in the first week of May, will still continue. More info:, www.,

America not only has a new president, voters continue to pass initiatives aimed at winding back the drug war. Michigan became the thirteenth state to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis. According to early returns more than 60 percent of voters decided in favour of Proposal 1, which establishes a state-regulated system regarding the use and cultivation of medical marijuana by qualified patients. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, some 65 percent of voters (and virtually every town) decided “yes” on Question 2, which reduces minor marijuana possession to a fine-only offense. Hawaii County and citizens in Fayetteville, Arkansas, voted to instruct police to make marijuana a low priority. More info:;

End prohibition? We Mexi-can! Mexican President Felipe Calderon wants to legalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis, cocaine and other drugs. Calderon’s bill aims to free up police to hunt for narcotics dealers and smugglers, but it could meet opposition in largely conservative Mexico as well as in the neighbouring United States.

US pot arrests at all-time high In October 2008 the 20,000,000th American was arrested for marijuana since it was prohibited in 1937. Yet another all-time record for US marijuana arrests was set in 2007, with 872,720 people busted, as a new study suggests the Government’s massive media campaign has failed to effect drug use by youths. Despite costing over US$1 billion, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign “is unlikely to have had favourable effects on youths.” In fact, the study’s authors said over-hyped anti-drug ads may have unwittingly delivered the message that other kids were taking drugs: “Those who came to believe that their peers were using marijuana were more likely to initiate use themselves.” Summer 2008/9 N O R M L N e W S



Cannabis Culture

! d e n n ba

By Chris Fowlie

Customs have succeeded in getting a second issue of Cannabis Culture magazine banned, throwing the local future of the publication into doubt.


BANNED Cannabis Culture magazine plays an important role in informing the debate on cannabis laws, as mainstream local media seldom report anything positive about marijuana, or the significant changes occurring overseas. Despite this, Chief Censor Bill Hastings recently banned Cannabis Culture #69 January-February 2008. He admitted the ban “interferes with the freedom of expression” protected by the Bill of Rights Act, but said the decision was “reasonable, demonstrably justified, and consistent with preventing likely injury R18! to the public good.” This, he said, was because it contained an article about hash making. It is the second issue to be banned for this reason, but not the first to attract the attention of the Customs Service. However, because the magazine was not yet banned at the time it was seized, Customs had no lawful authority to take it. Under New Zealand law all publications are legal until they are made illegal. Although one previous issue had been NOT banned, the ban applied only to that issue. That IMPORTED didn’t seem to deter Customs, who detained issue #69 back in February, but then waited until May to inform me they had seized a “prohibited import”. At the time, the Customs and Excise Act allowed only two ways to appeal a decision made by customs officers - no matter how irrational or draconian. They are to either sue the department in court, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, or ask the Minister of Customs to overrule them. BANNED! In an election year the chances of that happening were pretty remote, but I thought it was important to state it for the record. Rather predictably, Minister Nanaia Mahuta simply referred it back to Customs - the very people I was appealing against! It did spur Customs into action, who then sent it to the censors, apparently to belatedly approve the seizure. In my submission to the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) opposing a ban, I argued that it is an essential characteristic of R18! a free society that people are allowed to hold or read about views differing from the ruling elite. Although many people and organisations do not share the same views as Customs, the Police or certain politicians, does not mean that they are wrong, or that their views are inherently objectionable. 18

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While encouraging crime could be grounds for a ban, previous rulings by the censors had confirmed that the advocation of a lifestyle and of cannabis law reform did not equate with advocation of a crime itself. A 1998 decision by the Film and Literature Review Board regarding a similar magazine, High Times, concluded: “The dominant effect of High Times is the promotion of a point of view with respect to the law and culture surrounding marijuana use. High Times advocates the reform of marijuana laws and presents a favourable impression of the culture and lifestyle of those who use marijuana. Advocation of a lifestyle and the reform of laws does not promote criminal activity.” The OFLC, in a ruling dated 23 March 2004, confirmed that “The same point can be made about Cannabis Culture.” This was repeated in later rulings on other issues of Cannabis Culture, including one that contained an article titled “How to make honey oil”. In his rulings for both the issues he banned, Hastings says they contained “how to make hash” articles and notes that hash is classified as class B under the Misuse of Drugs Act, which carries penalties that are more severe than for unprocessed cannabis. Hastings ruled that because of the hash making article, the dominant effect of the more recent 120page magazine was somehow “not advocacy of law reform but encouragement to break the law.” He did not explain why the issue with the honey oil article was allowed, While admitting the magazine has “social and political merit” Hastings said “readers are unlikely to interpret the magazine’s support for currently criminal behaviour as advocacy for law reform and may be attracted to experiment with criminal actions.” It is this, he said, that makes the issue “injurious to the public good.” Shortly after the ruling, Customs Minister Nanaia Mahuta confirmed she would not overrule the censors as they are “experts in these matters”. She also advised that the laws have changed since this importation. Decisions by customs staff can now be appealed to an “independent” Customs Appeals Authority, and then if needed, to the High Court. Because of the costs involved, and the twoyear waiting list to get to court, an appeal is not likely. Instead, we are investigating the feasibility of reprinting part or all of Cannabis Culture here, possibly in conjunction with Norml News. Watch this space. Or just read it online. Chris Fowlie is managing director of The Hempstore, local distributor of Cannabis Culture, online at

Canadian activists forced to quit election NDP rejects candidates; GREEN PARTY CALLS FOR CANNABIS TO BE LEGAL & TAXED


annabis activist Dana Larsen was asked to resign as the New Democratic Party candidate in the recent Canadian n at io n a l e l e c t io n . H i s resignation was requested fol low i ng a n i nter v iew where the reporter asked about coca seeds being sold at the Vancouver Seed Bank, and videos relating to his use of cannabis and LSD were reported in Canadian media.

N DP c a mpa ig n ma nager Gerry Scott said “We don’t wa nt this ca mpaig n to be about his activities in that area and he does not either. It was felt in order that there not be any distractions, that the resignation was a best course of action”. Dana was a founder of the VSB, which sells seeds for many varieties of plants in addition to cannabis, but he is no longer c on nected w it h the business. Dana was the editor of Cannabis Culture magazine for 10 years, and authored the Hairy Pothead series of parody books. A founding member of the Marijuana Party of Canada and the B.C. Marijuana Party, Dana ran in the 2001 provincial election as a B.C. Marijuana Party candidate, then joined the NDP in 2003. Dana had wanted to campaign on i mproved hea lth ca re, jobs, Canadian sovereignty and human rights, as well as ending the drug war. The NDP hierarchy decided the coca seeds would be “a distraction” to the party’s national campaign, and he was told his services were no longer required.

A few days a fter La rsen resigned, another New Demo crat c a nd id ate a l so stood aside. K i rk Tousaw is a civil liberties law yer, former campaign manager for the B.C. Marijuana Party, and chair of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association’s drug policy committee. He said, “The likelihood of my past involvement in drug policy reform work might ... take the focus away from the issues that matter most to Canadians.” T h e N e w Democratic Party w a s c on s ide r e d the most l ibera l party on drug issues in Canada’s parliament, but the leader of Canada’s Green Party recently unveiled a policy to legalise and tax marijuana. Leader Elizabeth May promptly apologised to reporters for not having tried it. The Greens said marijuana prohibition “has utterly failed and has not led to reduced drug use” and prohibition was “criminalizing youth and fostering organized crime.” They want to allow the sale of marijuana to adults through licensed outlets, which would generate around $1 billion annually if it was taxed at the same rate as tobacco. More:; www. Summer 2008/9 N O R M L N e W S



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From First Principles The New Zealand Law Commission is about to undertake the first review of our drug laws in over thirty years, writes Phil Saxby


ometimes the long way round is actually the quickest way. Cannabis law reformers can point to a long series of official reports into cannabis, under its various names, going back to the Indian Hemp inquiry over 100 years ago. These reports are remarkably consistent in their findings that cannabis harms are overstated and that attempts to prohibit the use of cannabis are usually ineffective and may cause more harm than good. Knowing this, it is natural to ask, Do we really need another report? Why not just stop arresting people now, and make cannabis prohibition “gone by lunchtime”? Well, that’s not going to happen in 2009 any more than it did in 2008. One reason is the climate of public opinion, of which more later. Another reason is that the investment in policies based on the Misuse of Drugs Act is huge, across a whole range of government departments. We are locked into a prohibitionist framework, within which “harm minimisation” is accepted in principle but cannot be properly applied. So, a review “from first principles” promised by the Law Commission could be good news. After more than 30 years, the Act will be reviewed in depth by an independent, but official, body. What can we expect from it? In November, I interviewed Law Commissioners Warren Young and Val Sim to find out. Review “from first principles” This review will not reach any conclusions quickly, but it will be thorough and will start from first principles: what is the rationale for criminalising people who use drugs? What is the legislation trying to achieve? Law reformers have often argued that marijuana (cannabis) is different from other drugs controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act. It’s a naturally occurring plant, not a man-made chemical; it’s been popular for thousands of years; it has medical uses and so on. The case may have been strong, but the increasing popularity of other substances makes it impossible to separate the issue of cannabis use from other (illegal) drug use. The only way New Zealand is likely to get cannabis law reform is through a much wider reform of our drug laws in general. NORML has accepted that a general reform of the Misuse of Drugs Act is necessary. It’s a big task but a vital one. Who should do it? I asked the Commissioners about the alternatives, such as a Royal Commission. An independent review In 2007, the public was consulted about the National Drug Policy and many submissions called for a totally new approach. In the end, though, the revised policy document reflected the various priorities of all the government agencies involved in drug policy, with only cosmetic changes. By contrast, the Law Commission review will be genuinely independent of government departments, ministries and even of Cabinet Ministers. Like a Royal Commission, the Law Commission does not take direction from the government. Its role, given in its terms of reference, is to “make proposals for a new legislative regime” and its final proposals could be for


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a new model, completely different from the present Act. Only an independent review would be likely to recommend a completely new regulatory system. While there is no guarantee about the outcome, and the review is limited to proposals that are consistent with our international obligations concerning “illegal and other drugs”, it is an exciting prospect to have a genuine independent review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. A good sign for the independence of the review is the time (2 hours) granted to the touring speaker, Judge Paradis. Representing Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Jerry Paradis toured NZ in August, presenting a strong critique of prohibition policy; his meeting with the Law Commission is one of several indications that the review will be carried out without prejudice. Options The comprehensive scope of the review is revealed by its terms of reference. The Law Commission will consider a wide range of issues: • • • • • • • • •

The principle of harm minimisation The “most suitable” model(s) for the control of drugs Which drugs should be regulated by the Act How to treat new psychoactive drugs Alternatives to the current classification system Current placements of substances if the current system is retained Offence and penalty structures Cease the presumption of dealing based on quantity in possession Enforcement powers (search and surveillance)

Of these, the most significant are the first two or three. Harm minimisation is described in the Commission’s brief as the principle that underpins the National Drug Policy. Yet its also regarded as a codeword for the liberal approach. This is because harm minimization implies acceptance that use of drugs will continue or may continue, whereas prohibitionists set the goal of reducing drug use as an end in itself. Their zero-tolerance programme aims to reduce supply and promote abstinence consistent with the target of a “drug-free” society. Policy specialists in many government agencies are well aware that the goal of a drug-free society is a more a prohibitionist slogan than a realistic policy goal, so the National Drug Policy continues to have a rational, not ideological, foundation. To be consistent, the principle of harm minimization needs to be extended within the National Drug Policy rather than undermined by policy makers. In the 2007 review, some of the

White Rhino

WHY LEGALISE? • Drug laws should be based on evidence, not moral judgements. Prohibiting drugs doesn’t work, and causes far more harm than the use of drugs themselves. • Prohibition glamourises drugs and removes control over the way it is sold. No one checks for ID at tinnie shops! A strictly-enforced legal age of purchase would better limit juvenile access to cannabis. Sales taxes could fund more effective drug education, research and treatment. • Prohibition creates a lucrative black market. It breeds violence and corruption and supports the growth of organised crime. • Prohibition erodes respect for the police and the law, and drug crimes divert police from crimes that matter. The widespread use of draconian search and seizure laws tramples over everyone’s rights and freedoms. • Seriously-ill patients are denied the benefits of medical marijuana. Doctors are afraid to talk about it. • New Zealand has the world’s highest cannabis arrest rate. More than $60 million is spent every year busting pot smokers and growers, taking up the time of the equivalent of more than 150 full time police officers. Yet most people have broken the law, including more than 80 per cent of 21-year-olds. • Drug education gets a measly $3 million per year, and the blatant hypocrisy of our drug laws undermines effective drug education efforts. • Some people do experience problems relating to their drug use, and need help, but treatment services are seriously under-funded, and the biggest barrier to seeking help is a fear of being arrested. • Cannabis law reform does not lead to increased use. Holland has a use rate one third that of ours. Decriminalised states in the US and Australia do not have higher use rates than strict law enforcement states. In California and the UK teen use dropped after law reform.

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Drug law review

Misuse of Drugs Act Review

Terms of Reference The Law Commission has been asked to “review the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 and make proposals for a new legislative regime consistent with New Zealand’s international obligations concerning illegal and other drugs”. Don’t let that put you off - the international conventions are up for review as well. The Law Commission says it will seek public submissions, and will consider any issues, including: (a) Whether the legislative re gime should ref le c t the principle of harm minimisation underpinning the National Drug Policy; (b) What is the most suitable model or models for the control of drugs; (c) Which substances the statutory regime should cover; (d) How should new psychoactive substances be treated; (e) Whether drugs should continue to be subject to the current classification system or should be categorised by some alternative process or mechanism; (f) If a classification system for categorising drugs is retained, is the current placement of substances appropriate; (g) The appropriate offence and penalty structure; (h) W hethe r the existing statutory dealing presumption should continue to apply in light of the Supreme Court’s 24

decision in the Hansen case; (i) Whether the enforcement powers proposed by the Commission in its report on Search and Surveillance Powers are adequate to investigate drug offences; ( j) W hat legislative framework provides the most suitable structure to reflect the linkages between drugs and other similar substances; (k) W hich agenc y or agencies should be responsible for the a d m i n i s t r a ti o n of t h e legislative regime. It is not intended that the Commission will make recommendations with respect to the regulation of alcohol or tobacco in undertaking this review (but don’t let that stop you discussing them). For more information see www. then click on ‘projects’

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language changed but the overall policy is still formally based on the harm minimisation principle. In considering a model or models for the control of drugs, the Commissioners may decide to propose new ways to regulate and control drugs, as NORML as advocated for many years. If they decide to present new models these could (and should) extend the principle of harm minimization into new areas. NORML’s R18 policy is a good example of harm minimization. It implies tolerance of responsible adult use while restricting access to drugs by those under age. Amsterdam’s coffeeshops that allow cannabis use but exclude other drug use also follow the principle. Allowing responsible adults access to cannabis alone in a licensed coffee shop is a healthier alternative to the unregulated criminal market. Review timetable Reviewing the legislation in such detail makes this one of the largest projects to be undertaken by the Law Commission. Two Commissioners were assigned to the task (Warren Young and Val Sim). They have already been engaged in discussion with government and non-government agencies, including the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs, CAYADs and others. By about March 2009, an “issues paper” will be produced by the Commission, which will foster public discussion on the paper for about 12 months. It is likely that in some areas, the Commission will produce a range of options without favouring any. In the core area of harm minimization, it may need to take a more definite position. A new government could derail the process by simply advising the Law Commission that it had no interest in funding the review or the consultation period. Fortunately, this seems to be unlikely. What can NORML do? Reformers must work to ensure that harm minimization remains the organizing principle of New Zealand drug policy. It’s come under attack by some of the anti-drug campaigners but the consultation period gives individuals and organisations a chance to reinforce the policy. If the “issues paper” presents zero tolerance ideas, it needs to be challenged. On the other hand, if the issue paper promotes harm minimisation and suggests moves away from prohibition, it’s important these ideas receive support. To achieve a lasting reform of the Misuse of Drugs Act, we need more than a supportive Parliament – we need a more favourable climate of public opinion. The two go together – politicians respond to a mood for change, but if that tide goes out, the politicians back away from ideas of reform as happened after 2002. Rather than lobbying politicians directly, the next year is a chance to help change public opinion towards supporting law reform. Its safe to assume there will be some ideas in the issues paper that NORML would like to support and we need to be ready when its released early next year (around March). The good thing is that NORML will not be alone, trying to start debate on alternatives to our present failed drug policy, as the Law Commission will want to raise public awareness and understand of the issues it raises. Others, such as the Drug Foundation, some academics and commentators, and some parties and individual politicians will join in. The opponents of harm minimisation ideas will surely respond. The year 2009 could well be the most important year for debating our drug policy since the Misuse of Drugs Act was

Drug law review passed over 30 years ago – we need to be ready for it!

NORML’s goals

A review we need, however overdue

The National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML New Zealand Inc.) campaigns to end cannabis prohibition. These are some ideas we’d like the Law Commission to consider. We believe drugs can have positive as well as negative effects, both for the individual and society, and that the current distinction between drugs that are legal and illegal is not evidence-based. Many of the harmful effects blamed on drug use are actually a result of drug laws. Prohibition is a barrier to effective treatment and education, and creates harms that cannot be addressed while it remains, including a lucrative and dangerous illicit market. NORML supports the rights of all people including those who use drugs. We respect the sovereignty of people over their own bodies. People have the right to make their own choices, including their choice of medication, provided they don’t impinge on the rights of others.

At the time it was passed in 1975, those who made the recommendations were cautious about their proposals. They knew, even then, that prohibition models were only one option, and were under attack in other countries. They warned that the legislation should not continue if it was not effective, and never expected it would take 30 years before a government would seriously ask the question, does this work? Fortunately, this question is now officially on the table. Whatever the answer given, the process of holding a full, independent inquiry has begun. Watch this space! Sources: Law Commission,

We oppose stigma and discrimination, which undermine human dignity, marginalise and isolate people, and act as barriers to the reduction of drug-related harm. We operate within the harm minimisation philosophy, with a focus on reforming drug laws and promoting the health and rights of people who use drugs. NORML supports the right of all adults to possess, use and grow their own marijuana. We recognise that a market for marijuana will always exist, and promote ways to best regulate and control that market. We do not promote the irresponsible use of drugs, but also do not condemn people for the choices they make. Our members, activists and volunteers work to: reform New Zealand’s marijuana laws; provide information about cannabis; engage in political action appropriate to our aims; inform people of their rights; and give advice and support to victims of prohibition. If you agree, please join NORML on page 49.


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



Canadian judge here to spread LEAP’s anti-prohibition message Retired Canadian judge, Jerry Paradis, of the international organisation LEAP, (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) came to New Zealand in September to give talks around the country about the failures of the drug war. LEAP has toured here before, but this time there was the sharpened focus of a presentation to our Law Commission, for it’s historic review of the Misuse of Drugs Act. NORML News sent Jonathan Rennie to find out how it went, and what perspectives we could gain from the learned judge.


hat very morning it was all over the papers an undercover cop had been shot dead while doing surveillance work outside an alleged meth lab. The mainstream media ejaculated all its usual drug violence splutter with cries for harsher penalties from various quarters. No one asked any tough questions about how the policy of prohibition itself may have contributed to the officer’s senseless death. Not surprisingly, NORML News was to find a refreshing contrast in the sincere and measured approach of drug law reformer Judge Jerry Paradis. Jono: To put it bluntly, were you ever a prohibitionist? Were you ever a believer in “the war on drugs?” Jerry: Absolutely. When I was appointed in 1975 I had spent my career mainly as a criminal lawyer and I defended a lot of drug cases. I was quite comfortable with the orthodoxy of the day, that drugs in themselves were evil and that the best way to deal with them was to put people in jail. That was the conditioning that I had been subjected to. I realised then it was silly to be so excited


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about marijuana but I thought, well it’s part of the package and I’d sworn to do a job. But by the mid 80s, about 10 years after I’d started, I came to realise that the whole structure was really causing an enormous amount of damage and doing no good whatsoever. And that applied to all drugs. So from there on in, for the next 15 years, that’s what I believed. Was there some moment you can pinpoint that really brought it home for you? –an epiphany? Or perhaps a kind of case you kept seeing? There was no epiphany, it was really a slow process. But there was a kind of case and that mainly had to do with bail. Canadian bail law requires that anyone before the court who is either unlikely to return to court, or likely to commit offences while at large, must be detained. Of course that’s almost a definition of a cocaine or heroin addict. To use, they almost invariably have to steal. So it became almost a matter of ritual to detain drug addicts and in doing so, subject them to the pretty awful experience of forced withdrawal. That’s the kind of case that started to bring

it home for me. The ruthlessness of it: doing harm and not doing any good. Prohibition is clearly a failed policy, so you’d think that it would be fairly easy to reverse. Instead, the opposite is true: it’s incredibly difficult to get change. What do you see as the most important obstacles to law reform? The principle thing that is stopping change in drug policy is the absolute conviction of those who are elected to office, that if they start to speak other than “getting tough” language about drugs, they will be punished mercilessly at the polls. They really believe that. They believe that the public at large doesn’t yet buy into the idea of change of that kind. That’s the first big hurdle. The second is that they may very well be right. Although it’s probably not nearly as bad as they think. I don’t know about here, but in Canada it’s clear that many people now support serious change to our drug policy. I know that because our media are now entirely on side. That’s the third thing: the media. Over the past two years there’s been a radical change in media coverage of the drug


Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

issue in Canada. All serious media outlets - whether it’s the right, the left or the centre, newspapers, talk radio, editorial - have all begun to be very careful and critical about the way they look at what they’re being fed on the drug issue by elected representatives. For example, the present (minority) government –one of the most seriously conservative governments that we’ve ever had –is going to the polls in October. They have supported harm minimisation at World Heath Organisation meetings, but for Canadian public consumption they have opposed Vancouver’s supervised injection sites. They’ve said that it’s “enabling”, that it encourages addicts to keep using –as if anything can discourage them, other than their willingness to stop. So the Vancouver Sun published one single editorial over the entire editorial page, and it simply ridiculed a speech by our Minister of Health on that subject. Now that’s just one example, the latest one. Across the country the media are simply not buying the “get tough” garbage. That’s the other very serious item required for serious change. Since

being here I’ve seen none of that in your newspapers. No, I’m afraid you wouldn’t have. In fact, sad to say, the newspapers that I’ve read –and read carefully –the Herald, the Christchurch Press and the Otago Daily Times, are simply regurgitating stuff that they’re getting from Reuters and others. They’re not applying any serious thought themselves. The coverage of what happened yesterday I found dismal, because there was so much to comment on. Maybe they need to gather their wits. I’ll wait to see if tomorrow’s Herald is any different, but today’s was a disappointment. You presented evidence to our Law Commission, which is doing a review of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Do you think you made any headway? I spent two hours with them. These people know very much what they’re talking about, their job is to spend their days doing the research on how, if at all, the Act should be changed. So we had a really good conversation, we

Founded in 2002, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is made up of current and former members of law enforcement who believe the existing drug policies have failed in their intended goals of addressing the problems of crime, drug abuse, addiction, juvenile drug use, and the sale and use of illegal drugs. By fighting a war on drugs the government has increased the problems of society and made them far worse. LEAP says a system of regulation rather than prohibition is a less harmful, more ethical and a more effective public policy. LEAP’s mission is to reduce the multitude of unintended harmful consequences resulting from fighting the war on drugs and to lessen the incidence of death, disease, crime, and addiction by ultimately ending drug prohibition. LEAP’s goals are: 1. To educate the public, the media, and policy makers, to the failure of current drug policy by presenting a true picture of the history, causes and effects of drug abuse and the crimes related to drug prohibition and 2. To restore the public’s respect for law enforcement, which has been greatly diminished by its involvement in imposing drug prohibition. LEAP’s main strategy for accomplishing these goals is to create a constantly enlarging speakers bureau staffed with knowledgeable and articulate former drug-warriors who describe the impact of current drug policies on: police/community relations; the safety of law enforcement officers and suspects; police corruption and misconduct; and the financial and human costs associated with current drug policies. For more information see Summer 2008/9 N O R M L N e W S


“I don’t think that the politicians would refuse to repeal prohibition if their voters told them to” went into it very deeply. But I have to tell you this much, that they told me: the New Zealand Government, whether it’s Labour, National or any coalition, is extremely edgy about shaking up any international commitments you have. Particularly those fostered by US policy, like the United Nations’ prohibitionist conventions on drugs which the United States essentially pushed the UN into adopting. So we discussed that at length, and I kept saying, any sovereign government is entitled, if it feels that domestic policy must be enacted for the betterment of its own people, to tell any other member of a treaty that they’re going to “contract out” and simply repudiate it. But they have that concern, and it’s quite apart from what I said earlier about politicians being afraid to anger their constituents.

There was an incident a few years ago after the Health Select Committee found the mental health effects of cannabis aren’t nearly as bad as previously supposed and that we should probably look at changing the law. The Prime Minister at the time, a conservative, Jenny Shipley, her candid response was, oh we’d better take a look then. Then up pops Louis Freer, head of the FBI –here, in NZ


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–and he goes into a room with Shipley and has a conversation with her. This actually happened. Next thing they do a joint press conference about how cannabis laws won’t be liberalising here, and that instead drug prohibition was actually going to get tougher, which it did. It could have been that [Shipley] was instructed about the importance of these international treaties and how it would be very dangerous for her to start angering the United States on this subject, economically damaging to New Zealand. In Canada there are people who come up from the US periodically. “Drug tsars” making visits because they can see that things are changing in my country and they’re a little antsy about that. They talk publicly, and I’m sure they also have private talks with our police force. I know that the United States brutally interferes in the sovereign states of Colombia, Afghanistan, perhaps in Bolivia as well, because they make no secret of it. So there’s this threat of economic sanctions, or worse for some countries, from the United States. Do you think there’s also a problem with vested interests? Because prohibition has created a way of life for a lot of people. Do you think there are people who are afraid to see a way of life disappear? I would answer that yes, unequivocally. I’m sure that any clear thinking executive of the brewing industry would be concerned about a legal market for cannabis, considering its popularity. I don’t think they’re too worried about other drugs, but certainly cannabis. That would be proper with respect to their shareholders. They would have to

be concerned about that kind of competition coming in the future. Also, in the United States, there is something a Californian Judge named Ken Grey has called the “prison industrial complex”. He’s one of the very few sitting judges in the world who speaks out openly against prohibition and the corporate prison system which profits from it. There’s this sense that it would be very hard to repeal prohibition in the United States, so much has been devoted to it, and the fact is, over 50% of all prisoners in American jails are there because of drug law. Its astounding. One in every 100 adults in the United States is in jail and most of them for drugs. A lot of it’s marijuana. So I can see that the private prison operators, of which there are many in the US; all of the parole, probation and other court related officers; certainly the DEA who’s budget has gone up 1200% in the 38 years of the drug war, would be very concerned about repeal. But all that won’t make a damn bit of difference if, in fact, there’s the public will to make the change. And that requires people getting convinced about it, then voting in politicians who start arguing in favour of change. I don’t think that the politicians would refuse to repeal prohibition if their voters told them to. So it really does come back, once again, to getting quality information to the people. It does and that’s what LEAP does. We try to give some real information from those of us who have been involved in the “war on drugs” and know how bad it can be. A couple of years ago NORML NZ adopted a resolution to support change for so-called hard drugs. That’s frightening even to some people who agree with cannabis law reform. Well, they’re behaving like the very people who say that cannabis is a dangerous drug. In the United States, the crucible of all drug prohibition, they’ve kept good statistics, and before they first passed the Harrison Act in 1914 [which outlawed most drugs] they did the best they could statistically at the time, and estimated that approximately 1.3% of the people who used drugs, which were all freely available then, were addicted. Why




they decided they needed a law to deal with only 1.3% of the population was, I think, actually to do with [the politics of puritanism and racism]. In any event, in 1970 when Richard Nixon declared his war on drugs, it was still 1.3% of people using drugs who were addicted to them. Nothing had changed in almost 60 years of prohibition on drugs. That was with good statistical information. In 2005 they did it again: now hordes of people are using drugs in the United States, it’s just grown like a mushroom. Only 1.3% are addicted. So you have to tell people who are afraid, the simple fact that there will always be a certain proportion of the people who use substances who become addicted to them. And that’s not good for them and its not good for society. But you simply have to accept the fact that it’s going to happen and try to formulate the best social policies that will deal with those few people who’s lives its affecting, and who are affecting those around them. That’s the kind of law you want, and I’ll be mentioning s4 of your Sale of Liquor Act. It’s a wonderful section, it tells us what the object of the Sale of Liquor Act is. It says: “this is to create a reasonable way to deal with the social problems that arise from the misuse of alcohol insofar as legislation can do so”. Well, substitute the word “drugs” for “alcohol”

and include alcohol in it. That Sale of Liquor Act s4 really says we just need to look at how to deal with those few. They’re reasonably small numbers. Support them, make them feel better in their lives, give them the best treatment. And have good education, like start talking to kids in ways that they understand and don’t lie to them. The drug stores will ensure quality control, clear dosage, and you’ll know exactly what you’re getting, just like in a liquor store. The dispensers should be people who are paid well and instructed in what to tell people about the use of drugs and the effect drugs can have. So here, you want to try heroin for the first time, go ahead buddy, but understand it’s addictive. Otherwise, its not that harmful, but it is addictive and you may find yourself becoming completely imprisoned by it, so remember that. But here it is, it costs three bucks, there’s a sterile needle in the envelope, you’re a grown up, make up your own mind. That is what we envisage. Government control, not private. Government controlling distribution, quality and composition. I believe that’s best. Then what I’ve just described: the non descript drug store. Not a place that suggests its shameful to be there, but no advertising, no branding, no inducements for kids. Just plain ordinary stuff on the shelf. Keep it simple. Perhaps you’ll have 42 strains of cannabis, so people who get to be knowledgeable can have their pick of what they think is best for them, just like people pick their wine. You would have that kind of labelling, but that’s only descriptive. It’s like saying, rum: so much alcohol per volume, that sort of thing. I think that’s the way it should be with alcohol too, but it’s actually ironic, what I see in New Zealand. I see you letting loose with your alcohol distribution, particularly on inducements to kids. I can’t believe some of the outlets I’ve seen .

“The drug stores will ensure quality control, clear dosage, and you’ll know exactly what you’re getting, just like in a liquor store”

It’s appalling isn’t it? Oh, the cheap booze that kids can just walk in and get, or get somebody to buy it for them, and nobody cares. No wonder everyone is developing this yobbo mentality where the object is to get drunk. I just saw a souvenir T shirt today. At the bottom it said, “New Zealand –Danger: Kiwi Dropping” and all it was, was five kiwis in a bar and one of them flat on his back, off his stool. Now that’s funny? Somebody has taken a drug to such an extent that he’s completely out of his head, he’s dead, he’s in a coma. [Swallowing a chuckle] Yeah I’m afraid that still is funny in New Zealand. It’s a certain mentality. Well, that’s what I mean: draw back from that mentality, while loosening up the other mentality [toward other drugs]. Even them up. The optimist in me feels that the tide has turned and there is starting to be more of an understanding that prohibition doesn’t work. Do you agree, and how many more years before the war is over? I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to the number of years but I would say this: I didn’t start doing this kind of thing until a little less than three years ago. In those days I would tell my audiences that I don’t expect change in my lifetime, but if everybody starts to think clearly and rationally about it eventually there will be change. I don’t say that anymore. I expect to live a fairly long time, but I expect change in my lifetime. I expect it to come gradually. The argument has to be made forcefully, but it can’t be successful if it’s going to be in your face. It can’t be that. Protests, smoking in the cop station, that sort of thing, is not going to make any difference, it’s simply going to get people’s backs up. But if you talk to people on a rational level –don’t worry about those that can’t understand, as there will always be many who don’t –if you keep punching away at it, eventually your media will come on side, and once that happens politicians will start to pay attention. We thank Jerry for his time. For more information about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, see

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

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



Growing Hemp in

New Zealand

Nandor Tanczos investigates the economic and environmental potential of hemp farming in New Zealand, and finds that political interference - as usual - is holding the industry back.


t wasn’t as if New Zealanders had never heard of hemp. According to Australian researcher John Jiggens, it was Joseph Banks that first brought hemp seeds to New Zealand and Australia in the 18th Century, in the hope of establishing a hemp colony. While he was very taken by harakeke (known overseas as “New Zealand Hemp” or to us as Flax) and the fine textiles produced by Maori, he was also a keen imperialist and anxious to ensure good diverse supplies for the empire. But until Jack Herer’s revolutionary book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” was published in 1985, it was as if the western world had forgotten about the widespread industrial use of the cannabis plant. Like many countries, Jack Herer woke us up to the theft of a part of our history and to the loss of an important renewable natural resource (read it at Hemp was once a fundamental part of the world economy. It was used for everything from ship sales and ropes, lamp oil, lubricants, fuels, to paper, food and clothing. That cannabis hemp was grown in this country last century is certain. The DSIR trialled 1 hectare of Hungarian Hemp in the central North Island in 1941. Shortly thereafter MAF grew 4 hectares near Foxton and reported “It grew magnificently & fibre yield was excellent.” Stories still circulate


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about the hemp plantations of Taranaki, the Manawatu, and other parts of the country, but it is incredibly difficult to untangle what was true cannabis hemp and what was NZ hemp, or harakeke. We do know that harakeke was an important industry for Maori both before and after Europeans arrived. Maori cultivated and used harakeke extensively and traded it internationally. How big the cannabis hemp trade was in comparison is hard to say without significant further research. Certainly by the 1980’s, when Herer’s book initiated the worldwide hemp resurgence, both cannabis hemp and harakeke were no longer economically important. Harakeke continued to be culturally important, but the monetary value of its trade was insignificant compared to one hundred years before. New synthetic fibres and oil based processes had overtaken them both. It

appeared as if hemp has disappeared for ever from the history books. But a growing underground interest in how to live more in tune with the natural world, coupled with the puzzlement about exactly why cannabis was made illegal in the first place made fertile ground for a hemp revival. The Awakening Mike Finlayson, then president of NORML, remembers coming across Herer’s book through cannabis law reformers in the States. “It was fascinating finding out about the origins of prohibition, the interrelationship between newspaper magnate W.R. Hearst and prohibition cop Harry Anslinger. The unholy alliance developed to destroy the hemp industry. It was an eye-opener, discovering that marijuana prohibition was because of the war against hemp, not the other way round. Marijuana was made illegal to protect the commercial interests of people like Hearst and the company Du Pont from hemp. Herer’s book provided that link.” The very first issue of NORML News in 1990 carried information about hemp, and began to spread the word. This was picked up by the first NORML national

Hemp in new Zealand


great things about hemp!

1. Hemp can be used to make everything we currently make from cotton, soybeans, trees and oil. 2. That’s a lot of stuff - more than 50,000 products! 3. Hemp is ecological - it grows quickly, doesn’t harm the environment, and all of it can be used. 4. Hemp is the strongest, longest and most durable natural fibre known. 5. The hollow fibres breath, making it warm yet cool, soft yet strong. 6. Hempseeds contain more protein than any other food source. 7. Hempseed oil is the best natural source of Omega-3, -6 and -9 oils, even better than fish oil or flax oil. 8. Hemp usually requires no pesticides or fertilisers to grow. 9. Grown in rotation, hemp conditions the soil and helps other crops. 10. Hemp is not only a carbon sink, it also soaks up nitrogen from intensive farming practices. bus tour, where display boards and stall pamphlets included information about the environmental benefits of hemp and how to grow it. The bus tour visited towns and cities from Auckland to Invercargill to build support for cannabis law reform, and in the process seeded the country with hemp information. Around this time DJ (Mac) MacIntosh was also reading Herer. “I was involved in an abalone divers club in 1990 but I was becoming a bit of a dinosaur in there, so I resigned as the Executive Chair in order to lead a peaceful life. Then I read ‘The Emperor Wears No Clothes”. I couldn’t believe it - first of all that it was true and secondly, that if it was true, we were so dumb that we were not doing anything with it. I was convinced that New Zealand was rurally between a rock and a hard place, so it was just a no-brainer. Plus I’m a major tree hugger so it suited me down to the ground. The masochist in me knew it wouldn’t be easy, but sometimes I wish I’d thought about it a little more!” Mac went to Tasmania, where hemp trials were underway, to see if it stacked up. When he returned to New Zealand and talked to growers, they told him “you legalise it, we’ll grow it”. He started writing to Ministers, but

unfortunately most of them were locked in a “prohibition psychosis”. The beginnings of an industry While Mac was embarking down the long road of lobbying, Mike Finlayson and others were getting involved at the manufacturing and retailing end, importing cloth mostly from China and assembling garments and bags. While these early articles were disadvantaged by being designed and manufactured by enthusiasts rather than fashionistas, in truth there probably wouldn’t be an industry without that early contribution. “The first hemp body care products in New Zealand were produced by Brian Slight. They were great, but the labels weren’t water fast. After a couple of showers, you couldn’t tell what was the shampoo and what was liquid soap. He just got up and did it, he didn’t fuck around. His attitude was ‘lets just produce it and the market will be there’.” Brian drew together a number of investors to put money into this emerging industry, supplying a range of products to several small outlets that sprung up around Auckland in these early days, such as Nature’s Force in Victoria Park Market and Legalised Clothing on Ponsonby Road. The Hemporium opened in Wellington in late 1995 and was the first hemp outlet to survive for more than a year. “Brian was a real pioneer, an enthuser” says Mike Finlayson “but none of us were really competent business people. We just got carried away with ‘this is the truth and the life’. We weren’t really looking at the hard issue of whether hemp can actually compete economically. We were all blinded by the light”. The problem was that hemp material was pricey, and most of the pioneers had a strong commitment to manufacturing in New Zealand. That meant that by the time it got to market, it was often two or three times as expensive as the competition. One area of the industry that was profitable was importing fabric. The first company to specialise was The Hemp Trading Company, but it was a competitive market and they were eventually bought out by Hemptech Ltd. They started off supplying manufacturers, but more importantly they began pushing furnishing fabrics and drapes, where hemp could still compete on price. By importing fabric and processing here (dying, shrinking)

Hemp farming at Riverside, Motueka (Also opposite page)

A better future Here’s what needs to change in order to fully realise the economic and environmental potential of hemp in New Zealand: • remove restriction on hemp foods for human consumption • allow licences to cover multiple locations • remove restriction on licence holders having no cannabis cultivation convictions • remove liability on licence holder for what happens to their by-products • remove need for processors and transporters to have licences • recognise the environmental benefits of hemp by providing tax rebates or carbon credits To make these changes NORML is proposing forming an effective hemp lobby headed by Nandor Tanczos. People and businesses can support this work by getting involved, writing letters to MPs, the Minister of Food Safety, or by making financial contributions to the hemp campaign.

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Hemp in new Zealand

Building with hemp A great deal of interest is being shown into variations of hempcrete or hemp lime overseas. Originally rediscovered by the French and marketed under the name Isochanvre, these technologies are taking off in many countries. A number of products have been patented, but they appear to be generally similar. In New Zealand, once again we are sadly behind in this area. The technique basically consists of mixing hemp hurds (sometimes called shiv – the corky inner part of the stem) with hydrated lime. Some people also add gypsum, sand, or clay. Hemp is the main lightweight filler, or aggregate, and lime is the binder and preservative. On hardening, it forms a rigid lightweight material with excellent insulation and durability. It is among the most sustainable of building materials. According to Lime Technology, you can grow enough hemp for a house on 1 hectare in 14 weeks. Hemp stores carbon as it grows, and if turned into hempcrete that carbon is locked up for a very long time. In addition as it cures hydrated lime absorbs the carbon it released at firing. Hemp Lime is both hygroscopic (water attracting) as well as vapour permeable and so provides a healthier breathing construction. The mix can be used for casting solid insulating walls and floors or amended slightly for an insulating wall finish. For walls it can be cast around a timber framework, or used to fill between beams. This is achieved by tamping down between shutters, or it can be sprayed against a formwork (permanent or temporary). The exterior may be rendered with a lime mix for added protection. According to Mac MacIntosh, of the NZ Hemp Industries Association, it is important to soak the hurds and any hemp fibre in the lime water for a week or two to properly petrify. He used hurds, clay, lime and hemp fibre to build a shed, and recommends adding 20 per cent silica in the form of volcanic ash or sand. The biggest problem he found was that it was too light - his shed blew away in a storm! For more information about building with hemp see; www.oldbuilders. com;;


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highly motivated by a social purpose than making money. While inside Mt Eden jail in 1991 for refusing to pay a cannabis fine, Mike Finlayson remembers meeting Pat Shepard. He was inside for ordering a truckload of cement and dumping it into a sewerage overflow pipe to prevent raw sewerage spilling into the Manukau Harbour. He got caught after he paid for the concrete. Pat later became involved in the hemp cultivation trials, seeing the huge employment potential for tangata whenua as land became available to them. The 1996 election By 1996 the hemp movement was gaining momentum. The huge level of energy around the formation of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, in order to contest New Zealand’s first MMP election, persuaded some activists to get involved. “In 1995 Mike Finlayson gave me a ring” remembers Mac. “He said, ‘here’s a quick way to get there’, so I joined the ALCP and moved to Wellington. But the closer we got to the election, the more panic struck I was that we might get in! There is a real difference between talking and doing. By election time I realised, this wasn’t going to be the hoped-for king hit. Even with a few MP’s we just weren’t going to legalise hemp, or marijuana either. But we got real traction when Donna and I helped Phillida Bunkle gather signatures for something or other and shortly after she became Minister of Customs. Lindsey Newton and me went to her office and she said ‘go hard’.” Bunkle set up a Ministerial Working Party which helped pave the way for regulatory change. The NZHIA was involved from the early stages. “Phillida Bunkle is a real unsung hero in my view because we would not have

Harvesting the traditional way, at Riverside community in Moteka

DID YOU KNOW? Hemp was prohibited in 1937 in the USA, but so useful was the fibre that shortly afterwards the US Government encouraged farmers to “Grow Hemp for the War”.

Hemptech cornered a lucrative market, and today are an award-winning company with patented processing techniques and research partnerships with tertiary institutions. It was Hemptech that supplied Phillida Bunkle’s infamous hemp curtains. Richard Barge was another early advocate of the industry with a realistic approach, using Chinese contacts to get product manufactured there for importation into New Zealand. Richard was also an early initiator of the New Zealand Hemp Industries Association (NZHIA), together with Mac MacIntosh. Another early pioneer of hemp cultivation, Steve Burnett pushed the idea of applying for licenses under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Operating around the Motueka-Golden Bay area, Steve won a Small Business Development Grant to investigate the job opportunities and economic viability of industrial hemp for the region, producing an influential report that helped set the scene for the hemp trials. Most of the hemp pioneers were more

Hemp innovations Some of the most exciting developments in hemp are taking place in Hamilton. Dr Kim Pickering, senior lecturer in the Engineering Department at Waikato University, is leading research into hemp composites in order to both understand their properties better, and in a bid to develop fully bioderived matrices. Gareth Beckermann is a PhD student also specialising in hemp fibre composites, working within Waikato University’s Composite Research Group. Add to this Hemptech’s offices within the Ruakura Innovation Park, where they received just over $20,000 from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FoRST), and Hamilton is looking like the research centre for hemp. Dr Pickering says that she has collaborated with Hemptech in the past, and is aware they are keen to expand into composite materials. Her interest lies particularly in the biological treatment of hemp, in order to lower the impact of processing. “We are a long way down the road in demonstrating what can be achieved. Depending on the intended use, some products are ready for adoption. What’s lacking is the investment to take it from the lab and into production”.

The Composites Research Group Engineering students from the Composites Research Group at Waikato University have been involved in a number of interesting projects. In 2005, Aaron Jonassen, Andrew Morrison, Jonathan Sauders and Nicola Withington won the Institute of Professional Engineers Student Design Award for their skateboard made of hemp composites (pictured above). More recently Gareth Beckermann and Nick Maarhuis have been involved with ‘Earthrace’, a unique boat that slices through swells to increase efficiency and speed. In a bid to increase awareness about the environment, Earthrace is attempting to set a new powerboat speed record to circumnavigate the globe using only renewable fuel. Earthrace may be the first boat in the world to use hemp composite. Members of the Waikato Composites Research Group developed a hemp/carbon fibre reinforced epoxy composite material for use in the cabin sole (the deck inside the cockpit).

And from Britain... the Lotus Eco Elise In looking beyond just the exhaust pipe at the full life cycle impacts of it’s manufacturing process, Lotus has chosen locally grown hemp technical fabrics as the primary constituent in the composite body panels and spoiler for its new Eco Elise car. Hemp fibres have also been used in the manufacture of the lightweight seats. This hemp material is used with a polyester resin to form a hybrid composite. For photos see tinyurl. com/59bqm9

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


Hemp in new Zealand

Hemp 101:

how to grow hemp Hemp is the name given to Cannabis Sativa when it is grown for non-drug purposes, such as fibre, food, or fuels.

the deep south before November or December simply sulk until it warms up. Both Hemcore UK (fibre) and New Zealand’s Hemp is an annual crop. It can be Oil Seed Extractions used in rotation and is an excellent Ltd (OSEL) recommend break crop providing a barrier to pests The Hemp around 150 plants per and diseases. It has been of particular m2, which is about 37kg use where resistant grass weeds are of seed per hectare. becoming a problem, and its deep roots Hemcore says a successful hemp are very beneficial for soil structure. crop depends entirely on good Planting establishment. Like all small seeded Hemp should be planted after the risk spring crops it requires a well prepared of hard frosts has passed and when soil and friable seedbed. Drill into moisture. temperatures have reached 10°C plus. Emergence should occur 5-7 days after DJ (Mac) MacIntosh of the NZ Hemp drilling. Crops that establish quickly and Industries Association advises against evenly will rapidly grow away from any planting too early – crops planted in pest and weed problems. Mac advises that if you turn over the soil then procrastinate a week Hemptech’s nic foreman with his before planting it may not out5m hemp plants, near Hamilton. compete weeds. In a dry spring careful attention must be given to moisture retention. Hemp will not penetrate through soils that are compacted or capped so drilling depth (usually 2-3cms) and soil conditions are critical. Birds can be a serious pest at the very early stage of plant growth, as well as when seeds are maturing. They must be kept off until the plant is past the cotyledon stage and has the first two true leaves, after about 7 to 10 days. Once away, hemp achieves remarkable rates of growth. According to Motueka hemp farmer Steve Burnett, new strains being developed grow 2.5m in the first 70 days. With currently available strains, the plant goes through several growth cycles, including a vegetative growth phase where it grows 5-10cms a day, and reaches up to 5m tall.

harvest in Motueka 120K (kg/ha). Hemp is not a greedy crop and returns a substantial quantity of nutrients to the soil as leaf mulch. Added to low pest damage and weed suppression, this makes it ideal for organic farming. Management After establishment, hemp crops require little management until harvest, beyond keeping a general eye on plant health, nutrient levels, pests etc. Canterbury-based OSEL says they didn’t need to apply any fertilisers, pesticides or even irrigation to grow their hemp crops. Harvesting is at around 120 days. Yields According to OSEL, hemp stockseed costs around $8 - $12 kg, with commercial seed yields around 400 – 900 kg/ha. In 2005 input costs were $560 per hectare. Hemcore reports average yields for fibre in the UK at 7.5ton/ha, with gross margins before haulage around NZ$1785 /ha. Clearly the potential of hemp as a commercial crop is significant but unfortunately the markets are currently limited due to political interference. Thanks to Hemcore UK for the use of their 2008 Hemp Growing Guide. See www.

Traditional hemp stacks at Riverside

Fertiliser Hemcore recommends keeping pH under 6.5, and suggests basic nutrient requirements at 112N-60P-


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

had regulations without her” says Mac. in Aotearoa for a few years, producing After the 1996 election, Mike Finlayson, high quality New Zealand grown coldChris Fowlie and the author set up The pressed hemp seed oil, but ill conceived Hempstore Aotearoa on Auckland’s Government regulations continue to Queen Street, in order to create a seriously thwart the development of the sustainable retail outlet for hemp and industry. provide a base for cannabis law reform. It So what’s the hold up? was run initially on trade credit and sweat Hemp, of course, is now grown here. equity, with the three owners living in In early 2001 the Misuse of Drugs the back of the shop to save money. The (Industrial Hemp) Amendment Bill was Hempstore is now the dominant retail introduced into Parliament by the author. outlet for hemp, including running a While the Government Wellington branch at one allowed hemp trials to stage after taking over be conducted, the Bill The Hemporium. While sat in select committee The Hempstore is still until late 2004, when operating, now on Victoria it was voted down by St East, it is clear there Parliament in favour of are limited opportunities regulations made under for running a viable hemp the Misuse of Drugs retail outlet under current Act and administered conditions. The problems by Medsafe. Those for clothing manufacturers regulations allow the remain, with a number licensing of people to of companies going into import hemp seed, grow hemp only to be thwarted hemp plants, and process by the distorted economics them, as long as the Riverside hemp of semi-prohibition. A hemp is certified below range of companies have 0.3% THC. Licenses are struggled to achieve real also possible for varieties over 0.3% for profitability in hemp clothing and apparel research and development. and have largely given up. Under the rules of the Food Safety Apart from furnishings, the main Authority of Australia and New Zealand hemp business opportunities in New (FSAANZ), hemp seeds are not permitted Zealand currently revolve around to be sold for human consumption. the seed, for food and for body care Believe it or not, this is actually because products. Blue Earth soaps, for example, hemp seeds are so healthy politicians is demonstrating that high quality hand thought they could send a “conflicting made hemp products are economically message”. They didn’t want their antiviable. Warren Bryson, one of the owners, cannabis propaganda diluted by anything was one of the world’s original hemp good about the demon weed. New pioneers, including a stint in the edible Zealand has a partial exemption largely hemp seed business in London. because hemp pioneer Steve Burnett Oil Seed Extractions, a subsidiary of imported Rapunzel brand hemp seed oil Midland Seeds UK, has been operating

Serious about Hemp?

Join the New Zealand Hemp Industries Association Inc.

$100 full membership or $20 supporter. Full membership includes 2 annual copies of the Journal of the International Hemp Association - a must read for hemp industrialists. Join the NZHIA today, and help us to represent the NZ hemp industry. If you would like to receive a membership application form, Send your contact details to the address below.

Name: Address:

Phone: Town:

NZHIA, PO Box 38392 Howick, Auckland. Fax 09 273 7396

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


Hemp in new Zealand remains liable for what volumes, and investigating end use. He happens to all of their crop. was involved in developing hemp/wool If OSEL sold their left-over insulation batts, but uncertain supply stalk fibre their business could of fibre has hampered that. In addition potentially be jeopardised if to supply issues, he points to a lack a single seed was discovered of capital investment for developing in it. So the stalks - which processing facilities. could be used to make houses Nevertheless he is also involved in or paper products - are simply the development of new seed lines with made into silage for cows. excellent growth characteristics and In Canada the rules are remains optimistic about, and committed more relaxed and there to, a bright future for hemp. already exists a thriving hemp New developments are occurring all industry built on the back of the time with this amazingly versatile hemp foods. According to and hardy plant (see stories on hempcrete Andrew, New Zealand needs building, and hemp composites). Despite just such a jewel in the crown, it being a hard road at times, there that can stand on its own remains massive potential to build a feet and generate investment plant-based rural economy, without the capital for R&D into offshoot enormous greenhouse gas emissions and industries. “It all hinges on water pollution problems associated with FSAANZ, and changing the pastoral farming. The main obstacle, as regulations” it has always been, remains political. Mac agrees, calling hemp a Claytons industry. “Food NZ hemp websites include; is the big potential, but the;; regulations mean we go two; For steps forward and one step licenses and regulations see www.medsafe. A healthy Motueka hemp crop back. Its actually worse now and look under ‘hot topics’. For than during trials, because information about restrictions on hemp foods from Germany in the early days of the then we had the top people see revival, establishing a precedent of ‘prior overseeing it. Now its middle echelon Photos of Riverside crops: Tomaash use’. However the exemption is only for bureaucrats who don’t know and don’t Cernik; Motueka: Steve Burnett. seed oil, not the whole seed or any seed care. They just want your money.” cake by-product. This means that while Mac has developed the only hemp seed cake or tahini is legal for New Zealand hemp cultivar Riverside hemp blossom people to eat, it is not legal to sell it to that is approved for growing them to eat. Avid hempsters are forced under Medsafe regulations, to buy hemp foods sold as animal feed, and in the process learned first such as KiwiCanna protein powder. hand just how indifferent the This is perhaps the major obstacle bureaucracy can be. Last year to the development of a viable hemp while waiting for a renewed industry. Oil Seed Extractions Ltd license they left him sitting on (OSEL) contracts growers, but this tonnes of seed - with potential year is only working with 2 sites, well criminal liability. down from the 100ha planted in 2005. His comments echo those The problem for them is that they can’t of Mack and Andrew. “After develop markets for their by-products, all the gains that have been except as low value animal feed or fish made, really the prevailing burley. attitudes remain restrictive, to “We can only sell 25% of what we buy say the least. That is the main when we purchase seed – the oil yield. thing still standing in the way We just can’t compete internationally. – attitudes. And on the other, Hemp seed oil sells for twice as much dak is bringing four grand as flax seed oil. It’s a better product, a pound or whatever. Free but its difficult to justify the cost. If we flying hemp pollen is very could sell the protein [remaining in the unwelcome I’ve been told, by-product seed cake], we could bring in no uncertain terms, many it in around the same price,” says OSEL times by now.” Business Manager Andrew Davidson. Despite that, Steve has An additional problem is that under been involved in around 20 current regulations the licence holder croppings, expanding seed


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


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.

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



Overgrow the Government! Politicians come and go but one thing stays the same - it’s always a good time to plant some seeds.


y the time you read this, we will all have placed our ticks and the machinations of government will continue to grind on relentlessly persecuting cannabis users. What a sham our democracy is when the only say we as a population get is once every three years. And how will our collective decision affect us all during the next term of office? Your guess is as good as mine because, provided they conned enough ticks out of us, they will do what is most suitable for them and their interested parties. Yoda’s cheese (day 49)


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One thing’s for sure, no political party in parliament has liberalising cannabis laws high enough on their agenda of priorities, and too many politicians across the whole spectrum are still unenlightened and biased on the issue. Even persuading the powers-that-be on the irrefutable benefits to be had from herbal medicinal cannabis seems impossible for now. The only appropriate response any of us in the cannabis community can really make is to give the government (whatever political flavour they may

be) the finger, and grow our beautiful plants where ever we can. “Overgrow the Government” is a valid political catch cry and possibly our only real response to a regime that politely listens to our reasoned arguments and then continues to torment our community with petty ‘busts’. Fuck them! We will continue to smoke and grow pot in the privacy of our homes and gardens. Well, that ends the bush doctor’s political point of view and back we go to the far more important business of helping everyone grow more and better buds.


o let’s start at the beginning everyone, and dig out those seeds that so many of us stash for that ever elusive “sometime” for seed germination. Even if the seeds you have are several years old, they can still germinate and grow into beautiful, bountiful plants. Think of a seed as a tightly sealed, dormant but living embryo. Inside the protective hard nut shell is life in stasis just waiting for the right conditions to wake up and spring into vigorous growth. Out in the elements it is the moist, warm weather conditions of spring that stimulate the seeds of annual flowering plants - including cannabis - to start germinating. Seeds do not need any light to germinate. They can’t make use of light for growth through photosynthesis until the first little round leaflets (cotyledons) have emerged out of the propagation media, opened up and turned from white to green. To imitate spring conditions in order to germinate pot seeds, we need only create a warm, moist (not wet) environment for our embryos. These days a lot of expensive high quality cannabis seeds are stealthily arriving here from overseas by various means. Those exotic seed selections are generally arriving in small packets of 1020 seeds per strain. So, great care should be taken with their propagation. A common germination (or popping) method is the “old school” way of wrapping seeds in wet paper towels or cotton wool and sticking them in the hot water cupboard for a couple of days. It works. However, after the seeds have

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



split and the fragile white tip of the infant tap root is emerging, our embryos are at a very delicate stage of their development. If they are not carefully nurtured, the hot water cupboard can turn into an arid, hot, dry death zone very quickly. Transplanting sprouts at this stage of growth is also potentially hazardous because they are so fragile. Another option is to germinate each individual seed in its own block of media such as rockwool, oasis or a jiffy pot. Planting up seedlings into a larger pot or hydro system is much easier for the grower and less stressful for the baby plants if we can avoid handling them too much. However, if you’re wanting to germinate more than 20 or 30 seeds, individual blocks of media can take up too much space. The Bush Doc favours filling a tray with


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a good seed raising mix to a depth of 3-4cm. My seed raising mix recipe is 80% Gro potting mix, 10% fine pumice sand and 10% worm castings. Press the mix firmly (but not really hard) into the tray and lay the seeds on top. Cover them with a thin layer of mix (1-2mm), and keep them moist. Propagation bins with clear plastic lids are perfect because they maintain a constant high humidity level inside. When the embryos have hatched and your babies are popping their sprout heads up through the mix, it is time to take the lid off the propagation bin. I recommend leaving them growing in the germination tray at least until their first true leaves are growing vigorously. At that point they are much tougher and able to cope with the stresses of transplantation. Gently fork them out of the tray and into their next pot, bag or whatever. If the seedling is a bit long in the stalk and spindly, it’s possible to re-pot it deeper so there is only about an inch or so between the top of the media and the cotyledons. The baby plant will stand up easier and the soft stalk will become part of the root system. If you want to germinate a much larger quantity of seed, maybe for an outdoor project, I would recommend germinating the seed in a glasshouse or cloche. A protective environment like a raised bed or bench in a cloche or in a greenhouse will provide ideal conditions

as well as gently exposing your babies to nature. Quite a few outdoor growers are cultivating cuttings from known mother plants in order to avoid males and get a predictable bud. All fine and well, but seedlings have much more vigour and resilience than cuttings. Worth remembering. Digital ballasts Last issue I said I’d do an evaluation of digital ballast technology which is now revolutionizing indoor lighting. I’ve run out of space to really give you an in depth explanation as to how the technology works, but in short they are superior to the old core and coil ballasts in several ways. They use less power and they put out more usable light for your plants. Plus digital ballasts will run both metal halide as well as high pressure sodium bulbs and give the bulbs a longer life span Yoda x bb

because they fire up gently. After several months of various experiments, I found no performance difference between either of the two brands of digital ballasts available here. As a parting thought, if you have any unwanted cannabis seeds lying around, why not scatter them in your favourite park or reserve?

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



the 5th annual

Auckland cannabis cup

AK-47 Indoor (L) & outdoor (R) entries


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Pot of gold More photos from the auckland cannabis cup, held earlier this year. Entries were judged on taste, smell, looks and effect. The winners: ak47 (indoor) and te kakariki (outdoor)

Strawberry Cough

Mother’s Finest


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



New Search & Surveillance Powers Bill YOUR GUIDE TO PROPOSED NEW POLICE POWERS By Chris fowlie


n the biggest shake-up for police search powers since the civil rights movement, the Government has tabled a new Search and Surveillance Powers Bill in Parliament. It draws together existing powers, creates several new police powers and retains the draconian warrantless search provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act. Five years ago, the Government asked the Law Commission to review the various search powers of law enforcement officials. It described the situation as “a mess”1. Significant changes proposed in the bill2 include a consistent approach to obtaining all search and surveillance warrants; expanded use of surveillance devices; more powers to search computers and seize electronic data; and new orders allowing law enforcement officials to compel people or companies to answer questions and turn over records. Obtaining a warrant

Currently the threshold for obtaining a warrant varies between different search powers. The new law will set out a single standard for all search powers. This will require law enforcement officers to satisfy the issuing officer of reasonable grounds to suspect an offence has been or is about to be committed, as well as reasonable grounds to believe that the evidence sought is in the place to be searched. At present a search warrant can be issued by Judges and by any Registrar, Deputy Registrar or Justice of the Peace - regardless of their training or experience. Under the new legislation a search warrant will only be issued by Judges or “issuing officers”, who will be specially trained and appointed Registrars, Justices of the Peace and other “appropriately qualified and experienced” people. Some may be available 24/7. The 46

bill also proposes allowing written applications for warrants to be able to be transmitted electronically, and oral applications will be possible in certain “urgent” circumstances. Oral applications are particularly problematic, as that could mean defendants will lose the ability to challenge the reasons for seeking them, as there would be no sworn affidavit to provide a record. Warrantless searches

The “emergency” warrantless search powers of the Misuse of Drugs Act will be retained. Section 18(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act applies to all class A drugs, and some class B and class C drugs and precursor substances. This power is routinely abused by the police to get around the Bill of Rights and search anyone they want3. They simply say they can smell cannabis. Most people don’t object to the search, or don’t fight it in court. But during the 2001-3 Cannabis Inquiry hearings so many people complained about the abuse of their rights that the Health Select Committee felt the need to remind police the “emergency” powers were “intended by Parliament to be used primarily for serious trafficking and supply offences, not for personal possession charges ... Today these powers are used as part of routine activities or street patrols.”4 The Law Commission noted that warrantless search powers are rare: they are found only in the Arms Act 1983 and the Misuse of Drugs Act. The absurdity of putting weekend tokers in the same league as gun runners and meth labs - and needing the same emergency search powers - seems to have been lost on the commissioners. They recommended both powers be retained as “justifiable exceptions of long-standing to the warrant requirement”. There are no changes proposed. As usual, accepted norms of justice, such as the Bill of

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Rights protection against unreasonable search - are conveniently forgotten when it comes to drugs. For example, the new law says internal body cavity searches are “generally prohibited” - except if they are looking for drugs. When Police and Customs officers need the consent of a person to conduct a search, it may be worded like a threat, or a question that it is difficult to say no to. There is currently no clear definition as to what constitutes consent, and silence is taken to mean consent. The new law makes it clear that law enforcement officers should first have a valid reason for asking someone’s consent to perform a search, and that they should advise them of that reason, and of the fact that they may refuse consent. NORML reminds you at this point - never consent to a search! Surveillance powers

Current law covers only audio surveillance, so video surveillance does not need a warrant. The new law says all electronic surveillance devices will generally require a warrant, which will only be issued by a District or High Court Judge. A warrant won’t be needed when visual surveillance devices are used in public or in public parts of buildings, or for unaided visual observation or overhearing. Protections applying to physical searches should apply to cyberspace, but the bill proposes allowing remote searches without the person even being aware it had been done. If surveillance powers are exercised, the enforcement officer must report to a Judge who will have powers to deal with material obtained, and report to the Chief Executive of the relevant law enforcement agency, and in some circumstances

they will have to tell the subject of the surveillance they are being spied on. Self-incrimination

The bill overrides the right to remain silent by allowing law enforcement officials to obtain “production orders” to force people to produce specified information or documents in their control. An “examination power” will also allow enforcement officers to require a person to answer questions. The bill contains another power to question people with relevant knowledge obtained in a business context, such as in the course of providing professional services or advice, and a power to examine people with relevant knowledge obtained socially. These sort of powers are not usually available to law enforcement officers as they go against the commonly accepted norms of justice. People have a right to remain silent and should not be forced to answer questions or make a statement. The token safeguard is that applications to use this power will need to be approved personally by the Commissioner of Police and the Secretary for Justice as well as being authorised by a District or High Court

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS! Judge. Officers will only be able to ask questions that are relevant to the investigation. The privilege against self-incrimination will still be available to any person (but not company) questioned under an examination order. Safeguards

Officers carrying out a search of premises when the occupier is absent will have to let them know they were searched. Surprisingly, there is currently no obligation to do so with most search powers. If items are seized, the new law says a list of what has been taken should be promptly provided. The bill also contains a procedure to deal with privileged or confidential material or communications, such as lawyer-client privilege, to ensure it is appropriately protected from disclosure. While the bill contains a few protections, they are not enough.

Michael Bott of the NZ Council for Civil Liberties described the more intrusive police powers contained in the bill as a “jackbooted jump back to the past where the citizen has minimal protection against the might of the state.” The impact will depend, to a large extent, on the integrity of individual police officers, and there is little reason we should simply trust them and hope for the best. More comprehensive safeguards are needed, so make sure you have your say. Email your MP: nz/EmailMP Have your say: www.parliament. nz/en-NZ/HvYrSay/ Links to references: 1. 2. 3. 4. w w html or tinyurl. com/4tzwtp

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

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


Harm reduction


CANNABIS USE The vast majority of people who use cannabis suffer no harm, but 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 Adults Only. Cannabis 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.


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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, observe accepted standards of courtesy, and respect the preferences of those who wish to avoid cannabis.

AK47 Te Rohe Potae

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.

next issue Subscribe NORML News goes behind the scenes at the Amsterdam Cannabis Cup! We’ll have the latest strains and interviews with key breeders, coffeeshop owners and more PLUS more on the Law Commission’s review of the Misuse of Drugs Act, plus stuff we haven’t even thought of yet!


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TOP LEFT & RIGHT: wazza’s wonder weed BELOW: AK-47 “smoke and fly”

ABOVE: AK-47 “grown under a 600W HPS with UV supplementation” LEFT: spotted on the West Coast Blackie’s Maui Gold, West Auckland

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

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



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