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Swine flu?

Take a POT Lozenge Health Committee approves medicinal THC Kiwi law reform Lessons from Portugal Obama’s new drug boss

Inside Auckland’s

6th Annual Cannabis Cup

w o grcession!

e lysis R a n a t i f e e Th on fails cost-ben trade, e ti • Prohibi n will control th omy atio r econ u o w • Legalis o r and g s b o j e t a cre

Worldwide pot protests

Bubbleman interview 1

Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S



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N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

NORML NeWS vol13.1: Winter 2009 ISSN 1172-9074


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


ABOUT NORML NEW ZEALAND INC. The National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) was formed in New Zealand in 1979. NORML is a nonprofit organisation that campaigns to end marijuana prohibition. Our aims are: • To reform New Zealand’s marijuana laws • To provide neutral, unbiased information about cannabis • To engage in political action appropriate to our aims • To inform people of their rights • To give advice and support to victims of prohibition

Contents New Zealand NEWS

J Day regional reports Dakta Green Mt Albert By-election By Harry Cording Health Committee supports THC By Jonathan Rennie

Editor & design: Chris Fowlie

Drug policy analysis

Contributors: Harry Cording, Jonathan Rennie, Phil

Saxby, Brandon Hutchison, Metiria Turei, Julian Crawford, Max Coyle, Indoor Herb and assorted recruits. Want to contribute? Send articles, ideas, letters, photos, cartoons, comments, grow tips etc. Enclosed a stamped envelope if you would like it returned. Thanks to our contributors, advertisers, distributors, IACM, NORML USA, and for hosting our website. Advertising: 09 302 5255 or Printer: APN

Distributor: IMD 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, Green Thumb Hydro, Greens Office, Needle Exchange, Rota, Switched On Gardener THAMES Boot’s N All, Crystal Ball Clinic TAURANGA Curiosity, Switched On Gardener MT MAUNGANUI Antipodes, Nemms TE PUKE Wild Thingz ROTORUA Skingraft, Wild Thingz GISBORNE Cultural Experience NAPIER Earthsong HASTINGS Switched On Gardener TAUPO Switched On Gardener TE AWAMUTU Groovee Thingz NEW PLYMOUTH Guru Gardener, Mindfuel, Net, Stardust Creations, Trick or Treat WANGANUI Drugs & Health Development Project, Stardust Creations PALMERSTON NORTH IV Union, Lotz of Pots OTAKI Hipsta! 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.

Disclaimer & LEGAL NOTICE: 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. Some content within Norml News is included for “fair use” research, review, education and information purposes. 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.

5 6 10

ver: on the conn abis Cup Auckland Ca entries

Lessons from Portugal By Phil Saxby 20 Law Commission law review By Phil Saxby 24 Cost-Benefit Analysis of Drug Laws By Brandon Hutchison 28 The Alchemy of Prohibition By Brandon Hutchison 30

Marijuana culture

Auckland Cannabis Cup By Chris Fowlie Bubbleman interview By Chris Fowlie Not Guilty in court By Julian Crawford

32 36 46

REGULARS Medicinal Cannabis research with Chris Fowlie World News with Harry Cording Bush Doc outgrow the recession! Safer cannabis use - NORML’s harm reduction advice Know your rights and lawyers list Activist Corner - The Jawa says... NORML membership form & shop Join the campaign! Show your grow pics from this season’s crop Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S

12 16 40 45 47 48 49 50 3

The President speaks


What’s to be done? We all know the argument that prohibition is an attack on the civil liberties of those who like to use prohibited substances. It’s the libertarian point of view and I guess it’s shared by most NORML News readers. But it may not be the argument that wins the case against prohibition.

See page 20 for a story on how Portugal decriminalised ALL drugs for reasons of health policy. Abolishing prohibition could be promoted as good health policy, and as good economics (p16: Arnie says California should tax pot to balance its State budget!) and also as good government, especially in countries where criminal corruption of authority is rife (p18). Defeat in the Drug War - is what Newsweek magazine (1 June 2009) forecast as today’s “big idea”. It says that now, the people who call for decriminalising drugs are no longer “extremists” – they are the former heads of state of countries “on the front line of the failing war on drugs”. President Obama once called the War on Drugs an “utter failure”. In May, his drug czar said the ‘war on drugs’ is outdated. Newsweek presents the idea that the drug war “stigmatises users... costs billions, and doesn’t staunch supply or demand.” Spending on the drug war has escalated but to little effect: despite $6 billion to stop coca growing in Columbia, it now has 15% more land growing coca! Afghan poppy production is up by 120% since the US invaded. Meanwhile American public support for “full legalisation” of marijuana has doubled to 42% and is likely to exceed 60% in a decade. In New Zealand, the prospects for a serious public debate on drug policy are good. At last, the Misuse of Drugs Act is being reviewed officially (by the Law Commission, p24) and will lead to a public consultation. New Zealanders know the present law is not working and that we need to find alternatives that do work. NORML’s annual conference in October or November will have the Law Commission report as its main focus. Watch out for more news on the conference, on the website soon. And in July, I’ll be visiting a number of North Island centres to talk with supporters about our plans – hope to meet lots of you then! NORML recently helped persuade Parliament’s Health select committee that medicinal marijuana should be more easily available! Law change is an idea whose time has come. We can make it happen in New Zealand/Aotearoa.

Phil Saxby NORML President 4

N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

Legal status doesn’t effect decision to use


he legal status of cannabis has no relevant influence on use, according to research on cannabis and alcohol use in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands. Despite widely disparate legal policies, there was little evidence of correspondence between cannabis prevalence and policy. Researchers concluded that “the finding that cannabis use rates did not differ across countries is not consistent with the contention that prohibition-oriented policies deter use or that liberal cannabis policies are associated with elevated adolescent use.” Another new report by the University of Washington, commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, also found the enforcement of criminal penalties against marijuana possession is not associated with a reduction in cannabis use, availability, or potency. “Increasing marijuana arrests does not achieve the stated goals of marijuana prohibition,” the study found. “The price of marijuana has dropped; its average potency has increased; it has become more readily available; and marijuana use rates have often increased during the decade of increasing arrests.” A 2008 study for the World Health Organisation found drug use “is not simply related to drug policy, since countries with stringent user-level illegal drug policies did not have lower levels of use than countries with liberal ones.” The study found cannabis use in New Zealand and the United States was more than twice the rate of use in the Netherlands, where cannabis is legally sold to adults. Despite having the world’s highest cannabis arrest rate the study found New Zealand teens were not deterred from trying cannabis. The number of Kiwis aged under 15 who had tried weed was 26.8 per cent, compared to 20 per cent in the US and only 7 per cent in the Netherlands. “The Netherlands, with a less criminally punitive approach to cannabis use than the US [and New Zealand], has experienced lower levels of use, particularly among young adults. Clearly, by itself, a punitive policy towards possession and use accounts for limited variation in nation-level rates of illegal drug use.”

Sources: Simons-Morton B, et al. Int J Drug Policy. 2009 Mar 19; detail.cfm?id=1014;


PHOTO: CHRIS, stjohn, irinka, kerry, max

J Day 2009

This May, once again, cannabisloving Kiwis came out in force all over New Zealand to celebrate J-Day and despite rain and cold, we sparked Hamilton up a hear ty blaze for freedom. Max Coyle of Tron NORML reports from the Waikato, “With dubious weather, Hamiltron J-Day still went ahea d in a deflated capacity. Instead of the 200 0 we’d expected, about 800 hardcore Hamiltonians arrived for the bands. A big thankyou to the council for letting us have another great day down at the lake and to the police for leaving us alone again.” . J Day in Te Whanganui-a-Tara was celebrated under tinny clear blue skies from high noon at Frank Kitt’s Park on Wellington’s waterfront. NORML Communications Officer Danyl Strype recalls, “At 4:20 , a sizable crowd was still gathered even though the sun was setti ng and we kept ourselves warm by passing around ‘torches of freedom”. In Auckland Jah chose to keep the Tam aki peeps cool this year and it poured down. Hundreds cam e anyway and gathered to enjoy sounds spun by a posse of DJs led by Morning Steppa. Celebrations faltered when police swo oped on the Cannabus at twilight and performed one of their routine arrests of Dakta Green. Otherwise it was a successfu l day and testimony to the growing strength of the law refo rm movement that J-Day attracted so many in such miserable conditions. Similar stories of good crowds and good cheer have come in from all over NZ, including Christchurch and Dunsterdam in the South, where they actually got some sunshine! The police stayed away from all events. NORML expr esses its deep gratitude to all who gave their time, resources and energy to make J-Day a smoking success all over NZ! We’ll spot you May 1st next year always the first Saturday in May, until the war on drugs ends!



Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S



ALCP runs in Mt Albert by-election by Harry Cording


aving led a nationwide tour in NORML’s CannaBus, fronting numerous public protests against prohibition, and opening The Daktory as a club for cannabis activists, Dakta Green stood in the Mt Albert by-election for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party. Entering the campaign provoked the Labour candidate - and newly elected MP - to publicly state his support for law reform. Ignored by the media and harassed by police, Dakta Green achieved sixth equal out of 15 candidates in an election that was a foregone conclusion for Labour’s David Shearer. He was tied with the Kiwi Party’s Simonne Dyer at 85 votes - ahead of United Future’s Judy Turner. W hile the thousands of ALCP flyers distributed in the electorate did not result in thousands of votes, they outlined policies that would have benefited the loca l community. Dakta Green explained how the fortune no w sp e nt on c a n n a bi s prohibition could be used to b u i ld t h e Wate r v ie w tunnel - a controversial local issue - along with improved policing of real crime and major sav i ngs on prison costs. He also set out a plan for establishing licensed cannabis clubs modelled on the Daktory and run by community trusts to regulate the cannabis market. The other positive outcome of running in the by-election is that in response the Labour c a nd id ate a nd e ve nt u a l winner David Shearer agreed he also did not believe people should go to jail for possession of cannabis. Police attention I f on l y t h at wer e t r ue for Dakta Green, who has


N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

suffered an unprecedented level of police harassment and interference in his campaign. He was arrested three times during the week he launched his campaign. On May 1 - the day before J Day - Dakta Green drove the Cannabus to Albert Park in central Auckland for a “hotbox” protest. About 50 people took part and the event was filmed for youtube. Within minutes of t he hotb ox end i n g , n i ne pol ice a r r ived, invoked their emergency powers for a warrantless s e a r c h of t h e b u s, a nd eventually arrested Dakta Green. The charge: permits motor vehicle to be used for the commission of a crime under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Dakta Green was granted police bail with conditions: not to enter CBD except for court and not to use illegal drugs. Police knew he would be attending J Day to announce his candidacy, and the OK was given to attend. “Keep a low profile and don’t go down into the city,” he was told. But after the J Day celebrations, when most of the crowd had gone, Dakta Green and his crew prepared

My promise to you - I will: • fully fund the waterview tunnel • free up 200 more cops • empty 2 prisons • increase the budget for prescription drugs by 20% Achieved through the legalisation of cannabis and taxation of the cannabis industry. to leave. Police cars arrived with lights flashing, and Dakta Green was arrested for breach of bail. No one else was targeted. Handcuffed and taken to jail, Dakta was held in a 2x2.5 metre cell until a court appearance the following Monday. Time in custody 45.5 hours, 39 in solitary confinement. He was released on bail with only a residential condition. The following F rida y n ig ht Dakta Green took the bus to Queen Street with Dakta Grower (Brian Borland - who has since been imprisoned on cultivation charges after publ icl y of fer i ng to sel l cannabis via his company Roa ring Lion Ca n nabis Shoppe Ltd). They had done this many times over the last 18 months, but without any warning Dakta Green was assaulted from behind and knocked down. A cop stood over him, saying he could smell cannabis and was detaining everyone for a full search. Nobody had anything on them, but the cops pulled the couches apart and discovered a ‘stash’. “Ha ha Mr Green. A bag of nope. Nice try. We’re not fooled.” They remembered

Dakta’s bags of “nope” (which were actually nettle tea) that had previously been used to fool and confuse them. Then the officers found the donation bucket, which had a baggie of bud among the cash donations. None of the crew knew it was in there - they thought the bucket had gone missing at J Day. Dakta Green was once again arrested, and charged with permitting a vehicle to be used and possession for supply. Fully naked After a naked strip search, Green was locked up overnight and police again opposed bail, claiming Dakta Green had breached bail by being in the CBD - even though that condition had been removed. When he returned to the bus it had been vandalised. The ALCP lodged a complaint with the electoral commission and with police minister Judith Collins, who duly passed the buck as follows: “ Yo u r c o r r e s p o n d e n c e relates to matters that are the responsibility of the Com m issioner of Pol ice. This separation between police and politicians in operational matters exists to ensure that law enforcement a nd i nvestigation by the police remains free from any political influence and interference.” Yeah, right.


The Hog (THSeeds) from FAB The Daktory Police interest in Dakta Green increased after media coverage of the Daktory that included a BBC interview and a H erald o n S u n d ay featu re. Some of the reporting was designed to provoke confrontation, like this item from TV One: “Just t wo m i nutes from a West Auckland police station, members of The Daktory smoke dope every weekend. Police say they don’t know what goes on inside The Daktory. ‘Unless billows of cannabis smoke are coming out the door when we come by and we smell it, we are guided by the principles of the law on how far we can go to invade someone’s privacy,’ said Detective Sergeant Sean HylandMills of Henderson Police. But as a result of this story, they say no one is above the law.” Significantly, TV One did not get the confrontation it was seeking, and the Daktory is still open. The police should be commended for resisting the provocations of the media. After six months of operation, The Daktory is now a BYO “daktavist” social club and lounge, still paving the way towards the eventual establishments of cannabis cafes and social clubs throughout New Zealand. New members are welcome email thedaktory@windowslive. com for more info

Metiria talks pot


ne of the features of the many interviews I have done since being elected Co-leader of the Greens has been the questions on my time as a cannabis law reform activist. Now the questions haven’t been that polite, I hasten to say. But it has been an opportunity to talk about my previous involvement in NORML and the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party.

Of course by the time I had become involved in NORML in the early 1990’s, I had stopped smoking pot. But I still knew many people who did and I still remembered those times when people I loved were busted or hassled by the cops simply for smoking dope. The trauma of that experience was very real for them and I will never agree that it is justified. So now, in my new role the media ask me, often with a giggle or a grin, “Why did I get involved in legalise cannabis stuff?”. The answer is the same reason I was involved in unemployed rights, in anarchist and anarchfeminist work and in tino rangatiratanga work. All these movements advocate a change in the way that power is exercised, whether by the state against its citizens, or by institutions against clients or between communities. My time in the Greens has also taught me that the environment is just as marginalised as our communities are and needs our protection just as much. All argue for a righting of the power imbalance that discriminates and excludes. All argue for the right of communities to self determination and to be free from oppression and discrimination. I value every moment I spend in these communities. It is what keeps me grounded while I engage in the most establishment of establishment politics - the Parliament. I cannot and, you will not allow me to, forget who it is that needs the greatest protection. So, thank you. Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S



NZ law reform

Dunne’s crusade nets herbal incense Spice withdrawn from sale; others still on sale



P rof.

u f fa l o t

Ask your burning question!

Q: What’s the law on weed - no one gets busted anymore, do they? Brian, Hamilton. A: New Zealand law treats cannabis consumers harshly. The penalty for possession of marijuana, hash or seeds is up to 3 months jail and/or a $500 fine. A pipe can get you 3 months jail and/or a $1000 fine. Growing a few plants in the back yard is up to a year in jail. More than 10 plants and you could be looking at up to 7 years. Any sign of dealing and that goes up to 8 years. Anyone possessing more than 28 grams or growing more than 10 plants is presumed guilty of dealing. More than 14,000 people were arrested last year on cannabis charges, giving New Zealand the highest cannabis arrest rate in the world.

Got a marijuana question? Ask Prof Puffalot:


N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

researchers can study the brain or the way the body’s cannabinoid system works. At least 200 have been synthesised so far. D i f fer ent st r eng th s of Spic e, such as silver, gold and diamond, contain different ratios of at least two - JWH018 and CP 47,497 - but only products that contain CP 47,497 are banned. The makers of Dream have already developed a replacement formula, and other products such as Space and Aroma that contain JWHseries actives are unaffected. This is a cat-and-mouse game where entrepreneurs will always stay one step ahead of politicians. That’s why NORML supports the call of the New Zealand Drug Foundation to place these substances in Class D of the Misuse of Drugs Act, rather than try to ban them. Regulations are already in place for controlling the sale of Class D restricted substances, but after the ban of BZP there are now no substances in this class.

Coronaki Afi from Flying High

At the request of Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne, the Ministr y of Health has threatened to prosecute distributors selling Spice. The letter dated 8 May 2009 gave recipients “30 days from receipt of this letter” to stop selling the products. The MOH says an ingredient called the “1,1-dimethyloctyl homologue of CP 47,497” is “substantially similar in chemical structure to THC and is therefore a Class C controlled drug.” The Ministry obtained legal and scientific advice to support this interpretation, which is at odds with that taken by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, who describe it as “without the classical cannabinoid chemical structure.” It is legal in the US. Spice is sold as ‘herbal incense’. It is a mix of herbs that have been dosed with so-called ‘cannabimimetics’ - synthetic chemicals that mimic cannabinoids such as THC so that

Phytocannabinoids naturally occur in cannabis, mainly in the capitate-stalked trichome glands (commonly known as ‘crystals’, above). Endocannabinoids such as Anandamide occur in the nervous system of all mammals, birds, fish and reptiles. Synthetic cannabinoids were developed for lab research and now found in herbal ‘incense’

School drug ed ‘waste of money’

Researchers have confirmed NORML’s assertion that traditional drug education in schools has little or no effect on people’s decision to take drugs. Most New Zeala nd schools outsource t hei r d r ug educ ation requirements to groups such as FA DE, L i fe, DARE or a plethora of smaller groups. While they a re u ndoubtedly well-meaning there is no evidence to show they actually achieve anything other than making school boards feel better for having ‘done something’. Professor Sally Casswell of Massey University’s SHOR E Centre says bringing in outside groups to teach about the dangers of d r ugs a nd a lcohol does not lead to a longterm change in student behaviour - mainly because teenagers have other stronger influences

in their lives. Her research was dismissed by one of the c ou nt r y ’s most wel lknown providers, Trevor Grice of the Life Education T r ust, a s “i r r eleva nt academic criticism”. P r o fe s s o r C a s s w e l l said while many local programmes were well taug ht a nd had some effect on changing shortterm attitudes to drugs and alcohol, the “evidence is really clear that this doesn’t make a difference” to their decision to use drugs or not. “Some time later on when they’re in a social situation with their friends and drugs are available, it doesn’t really compete.” If she was on a school

boa rd, she wou ld not support bringing in drug and alcohol educators to talk to classes. “It’s just a complete waste of money. Why would you do it?” Professor Casswell said some research suggested t h at e v e n t a l k i n g to students about illegal d r ugs cou ld i ncrease thei r cu riosit y to tr y them. It was far more important for parents to give strong guidelines to their children, and to restrict the availability of drugs, she said. We’ll just note that we’re yet to hear of any 24-hour tinnie shops checking for ID.

Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S



Committee supports medicinal THC Despite report, patients still prosecuted By Jonathan Rennie

The Health Select Committee i nv e s t i g a t i o n i n to m e d i c a l marijuana, undertaken in response to a 3000 -name petition brought by NORML, has recommended that cannabis based medicines be made more available in NZ. The result is a victory for NORML (and all who signed the petition), but our work is far from over. Medpot users i n the com mu n ity continue to be arrested, convicted and meted out burdensome punishments by our law enforcement institutions. Recent examples include John Tiplady, convicted in May for growing 12 plants. The 53-year-old Spring Creek man lost an arm and a leg in an accident and uses cannabis to ease the chronic pain. He was fined $1250 plus $130 court costs by Judge Zohrab in Blenheim District Court. In December, Judge Dominic Flatley sentenced Gore man Dean Robert Christopher Bell, 42, to 180 hours community work and 12 months supervision, as punishment for cultivating cannabis for medicine he could not afford to buy. Shouldn’t the government pay more attention to parliamentary investigations?

Sativex: How to apply • First see sativex6.asp • Sativex® can already be prescribed under section 29 of the Medicines Act 1981. • Your doctor and a specialist need to apply to the Minister of Health for special permission to use the cannabis extract. • While there is no restriction on what condition it may be used for, you must have tried conventional medicines without success. For enquiries regarding Sativex® please contact GW Pharma: Tel: (+44) 1980 557026 or email:


N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

T he com m ittee a lso acknowledged a request made by the Drug Foundation • Make Satives easier to get, in it’s submission, that from your GP the government continue • Continue to support the to monitor developments introduction of cannabis-based in medical cannabis medicines. research. • Read the report at www. Acceptance of medical cannabis overseas has led to greater opportunities for scienti fic prog ress. The committee’s report essentially gives the thumbs up to medical cannabis, so Abundant research has yielded an why not instruct police and judges to ever increasing knowledge-harvest back off medical marijuana cases while on all aspects of cannabis medicine: the lawful systems for getting cannabis palliative and curative applications, strains, dose management and new medicines to the sick are established? The report itself contains much to pharmaceutical products. For example celebrate. Its two main recommendations to the government are: to include Sativex If medpot patients were into the medicines act, making it possible for doctors to prescribe it without the given permits to homegrow support of a specialist; and to continue the medicine, they will to make cannabis based medicines experience a degree of available for the treatment of serious conditions “when traditional methods protection they can only have failed.” dream of now. One of the most vexing aspects of the red-tape surrounding Sativex applications is the current requirement a Dutch company produces three wholefor permission from a specialist. It will be herb strains of medpot “Cannabis flos” welcome news if the government takes up for the government’s office of medical the recommendation to do away with it. marijuana. Each product contains a GPs can prescribe morphine (physically different overall potency and ratio of addictive, and fatal if overdosed) when THC / CBD depending on the kind of they see fit, but they need to go and illnesses expected to be treated. This sweet-talk a specialist if they want to puts pay to the common claim that treat their patient with comparatively whole herb cannabis cannot deliver a non-addictive and entirely non-fatal consistent dose. The committee’s dismissal of whole cannabis drugs. As the petition organiser and former herb cannabis is probably the most president of NORML, Chris Fowlie disappointing aspect of the report. says, “The current application process Although the members seem to accept is futile, onerous, and politicised. It that there are other ways to deliver a does not help patients.” The committee dose of herbal cannabis besides smoking (such as via tincture or vaporisation), appears to agree. Even the Ministry of Health told the they claim to be concerned about dosage committee that the scientific and clinical consistency and patient’s vulnerability evidence “supports the medicinal use to theft, with particular regard to the of cannabis,” and that cannabis has possibility of home growing provisions a “wider safety margin... with fewer being made. But these concerns do not stack up. A short-term side effects” than currently pr e s c r ib e d a n a l ge sic s, a nd t h at diligent cannabis grower can produce “medicinal cannabis appears effective a fairly homogenous product and slight variations in potency can simply be and safe in all age groups”.



The committee’s report essentially gives the thumbs up to medical cannabis, so why continue to treat patients as criminals? adjusted for with careful dose titration. Vu l nerabi l it y to t hef t is on l y a significant problem for medpot users under prohibition. Patients often resort to growing, but may be targeted by either police or thieves for their drugs. If medpot patients or their nominated agents were given permits to homegrow, the police would protect them from thugs stealing the medicine, instead of behaving like them. But both the select committee and the Ministry of Health appear set against whole herb medical cannabis almost

as a matter of doctrine. This is despite support for natural plant cannabis coming from the conservative and widely respected Drug Foundation who along with NORML presented international evidence that whole herb cannabis medicine is generally more effective than extracts and derivatives. Sativex and other imported pharmaceutical goodies are very expensive products and it seems perverse to deny New Zealanders the opportunity grow medicinal plants that work better than the bought drugs do, for a fraction of the cost. Despite these concerns, the new government did not have to let this select committee complete their work, but they did. The Nats appear willing to listen to evidence and discuss the future of medical cannabis, and although they are slow to appreciate the importance of natural plant cannabis, this is a promising sign.

Rongoa Auckland

Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S


MEDiCiNAL CANNABiS Stroke Researchers have found a cannabinoid reduced the consequences of reduced blood supply to the brain resulting from stroke. Neurological function was improved compared to a control group. This protective effect was attributed to the attenuation of dysfunction of the smallest brain arteries. Source: Zhang M, et al. Microvasc Res. 2009 Mar 27

Reducing blood pressure University of Nottingham researchers found the natural cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) activates a receptor within the interior of cells that results in vasorelaxation in rat artieries. The receptor is also activated by other cannabinoids including THC. Source: O’Sullivan SE, et al. Eur J Pharmacol. 2009 Mar 10

Anti-Aging Ohio State University researchers found a synthetic cannabinoid that acts in a similar way to THC protected against some aspects of normal and pathological aging in animals. WIN 55,212-2 reduced brain inflammation and the decline in the new formation of nerve cells. Source: Marchalant Y, et al. Neurobiol Dis 2009;34(2):300-7

Lung disease The use of cannabis alone is not associated with an increased risk of respirator y diseases, according to Canadian researchers, who surveyed a sample of 878 people aged 40 years or older in Vancouver, Canada. However those who smoked both tobacco and cannabis were worse off than those who only smoked tobacco. Source: Tan, et al. CMAJ 2009;180(8):814-20

Keep it pure Researchers of Columbia University in New York examined differences between spliffs mixed with tobacco and cannabisonly joints. Pure cannabis resulted in higher THC blood concentrations and stronger effects, while spliffs mixed with tobacco produced similar increases in heart rate and higher carbon monoxide levels in the blood. Source: Cooper ZD, et al. Drug Alcohol Depend 2009 May 13

the latest research is at


N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

Swine Flu? Take a pot lozenge!


s Swine flu sweeps the globe, a new pharmaceutical company says its whole-cannabis extract has properties that could alleviate the symptoms and harmful effects of the H5N1 bird flu and H1N1 swine flu viruses.

In response to the outbreak the company even offered to produce 1 million doses of its lozenge and provide them at cost. President & CEO of Cannabis Science Inc, Steven W. Kubby said, “We have the science and preliminary anecdotal results confirming the anti-inflammatory CEO Steve Kubby; a similar cannabis lozenge from a properties of our new California dispensary. lozenges.” Last year, an early version of the and resulting organ failure. lozenge was tested at Vancouver “Endocannabinoids are nature’s way Island Compassion Society. Initial of controlling TNF activity. Existing findings from the informal human peer-reviewed publications have trials show a rapid onset through shown that phytocannabinoids can oromucosal absorption. prevent this cell death by mimicking The lozenges appear to downthe endocannabinoids.” regulate the body’s excessive Dr. Melamede said the lozenge inflammatory response to the “brings relatively fast relief to patients influenza virus, which Kubby said in a way that allows them to control could reduce the deadly consequences their own dosage and does not involve of an infection into something that is inhalation.” more like a common cold. The company is also producing a The company’s chief science officer, cannabis cream to treat MRSA, the soDr. Robert J. Melamede, said the called ‘flesh eating’ virus that is highly excessive immune inflammatory resistant to conventional antibiotics. response was driven by Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) which leads to the death of respiratory epithelial cells More >

MedPot Around the World > USA: thirteen states have legalised medicinal cannabis. A small number of patients receive pre-rolled joints from the Federal government. Patients may also be prescribed Marinol (synthetic THC). > Canada: patients can either get Sativex, grow their own, or are sent cannabis grown by the Government. > Australia: NSW is re-launching a programme to allow patients to grow their own or be prescribed Sativex. > The Netherlands: patients can grow up to 5 plants, or be prescribed one of three cannabis strains from the Bureau of Medicinal Cannabis. > Germany: patients can purchase Dutch medicinal cannabis from their German pharmacies, or may be prescribed Dronabinol (synthetic THC). > Spain: patients can grow their own or be prescribed Sativex. > Israel: patients can grow their own, or are supplied with an extract made from police seizures.


waz’s weed canterbury

Cannabinoids ‘novel strategy to treat cancer’ Naturally occurring compounds in cannabis possess anti-tumour properties and present a novel approach for cancer treatment, says a new study. Cannabinoids limit cancer cell proliferation, induce tumourselective cell death, and “may offer a novel strategy to treat cancer”, said investigators at the University of Salerno in Italy. In a scientific review published in the February issue of the journal Best Practice & Research: Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers said cannabinoids such as THC inhibit “tumor growth and migration, angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels to cancerous tumors), [and] metastasis (the transfer of malignant cells from one site to another).” A 2008 review in the journal Cancer Research reported that the administration of cannabinoids halts the spread of a wide range of cancers, including brain cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, and lymphoma. Spanish researchers demonstrated recently that THC induces the death of human brain cancer cells through another mechanism called autophagy, which happens before apoptosis (a form of programmed cell death).

“Our findings support that safe, therapeutically efficacious doses of THC may be reached in cancer patients,” reported Guillermo Velasco of Complutense University in Madrid. In another new study, involving human gastric cancer cells, low concentrations of anandamide stimulated cancer growth, while high concentrations induced apoptosis, a form of programmed cell death. The anticancer agent paclitaxel also acted synergistically with anandamide. Meanwhile a team of investigators from France, the United States, Brazil, and Argentina found smoking cannabis is not associated with an increased risk of developing cancers of the head and neck. Last year, New Zealand researchers reported that marijuana smoking, even long term, was not associated with head or neck cancers. Sources: Salazar M, et al. J Clin Invest. 2009 Apr 1; pubmed/19285265; Miyato H, et al. J Surg Res 2008 Aug 9; Berthiller et al. Can Epid Bio & Prvn 18, 1544, May 1, 2009

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MEDiCiNAL CANNABiS Patients get more relief from cannabis Patients living with HIV/AIDS say medicinal cannabis is more effective at managing their symptoms than either prescription drugs or over-the - counter (OTC) medications. Marijuana was rated slightly more effective than antidepressants for anxiety and depression, imodium for diarrhea, OTC medications for fatigue, and anti-epileptics and OTC medications for neuropathy. Source: Clinical Nursing Research, Vol. 18, No. 2, 172-193 (2009)

Yes please Spain is launching a medical marijuana pilot project in the sunny resort town of Mallorca. The regional parliament voted with a large majority in favour of letting doctors prescribe cannabis for therapeutic purposes. In Spain such decisions are now made at a regional level. Source: 9 April 2009

New cannabinoids Nine new cannabinoids were found in a particularly potent cannabis variety by researchers of the University of Mississippi. Two displayed significant antibacterial activities. The total number of cannabinoids ever found in cannabis is now about 80. Source: Radwan, et al. J Nat Prod. 2009 Apr 3

Teen medical use Researchers from the University of British Columbia, Canada, interviewed 63 adolescents who used cannabis and found many of them may use it to treat health problems. Twenty said they used cannabis for the treatment of pain, sleep difficulty, and problems with concentration. Source: Bottorff JL, et al. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Pol 2009, 23 April

War vets Croatian war veterans can now use cannabis to treat post traumatic stress disorder, following a ruling from the Supreme Court of the Balkan country. An estimated 18,000 Croatian veterans of the 1991-1995 war against Yugoslavia suffer from stress disorders. Source: German Press Agency 4 June 2009

the latest research is at


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Is Kiwi weed stronger? New Zealand Police have been growing cannabis to determine the size of potential harvests and gauge THC levels which they say have increased over recent years. Anti-drug proponents have always claimed cannabis is getting stronger, with similar claims being made back in the 1960’s. New Zealand Police even refer to it now in their reports as “New Cannabis”. They claim it isn’t the same stuff that baby boomers puffed on. Police used a hydroponic set-up to grow three cannabis crops of six plants at a time (18 in total). Police national headquarters assistant commissioner, intelligence and investigations, Gavin Jones said the cannabis was grown as a “joint research venture” between police and Environmental Science and Research between 2004 and early 2006, under licence from the Ministry of Health. They’ve also been cooking up P so that specialist officers know more about the recipes downloaded from the internet, and how to dismantle often dangerous clan labs. Jones told Sunday News the training included a “practical component”. He didn’t believe showing officers how to make drugs, and giving them recipes to do so, could lead to them becoming corrupt. “(Police are) no more likely than the general population, who can download virtually anything off the internet these days,” he said. ESR’s cannabis testing programme

ended in 1996. The average THC level of 3 percent had remained steady for the previous two decades, but forensic programme manager Jill Vintiner said the unpublished study found THC levels had increased since that time. Despite being great advertising for marijuana dealers, any claims about increased potency need to be taken with a grain of salt. Police only grew 18 plants of unknown origin, which may not be the same as what makes up the bulk of the commercial market. Importantly, THC - regardless of potency - is virtually non-toxic to healthy cells or organs, and is incapable of causing a fatal overdose. Surveys from the Netherlands also show that most people prefer less potent pot, just as the majority of drinkers prefer beer or wine over spirits. When consumers encounter unusually strong varieties of marijuana, they tend to smoke less. If policymakers and government researchers were truly concerned about supposedly stronger marijuana, they would support regulating cannabis, so that its potency would be consistent and this information would be publicly displayed to the consumer.

THC improved symptoms of schizophrenia for some patients Pot use by mental health patients is controversial, however scientists in New York have reported an improvement in symptoms in 4 patients who received oral THC. They began the study after noticing a dramatic improvement in one patient, and selected only patients whose severe condition made the possible benefits outweigh the risks. Only 5 patients met the inclusion criteria, out of approximately 200 patients with chronic psychosis, . No significant adverse effects were observed. One of the patients needed 8 weeks to reach significant

improvement, while the others responded within a shorter period of time. Researchers noted that “this improvement seems to have been a reduction of core psychotic symptoms in 3 of the 4 responders and not just non-specific calming.” The results suggest “the role of cannabinoids in psychosis may be more complex than previously thought. They open a possible new role for cannabinoids in the treatment of schizophrenia.” Source: Schwarcz G, et al. J Clin Psychopharmacol 2009;29(3):255-8

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US near the tipping point for law change

images Courtesy

Support for marijuana law reform in the USA is approaching a tipping point. After more than 70 years of prohibition, mainstream America is growing dissatisfied with failed policies.



n January Massachusetts made possession of a n ounce or less a civil citation, punishable by US$100 fine. It is now one of 12 states where people can no longer go to jail for possessing small amounts of marijuana. In California, Assemblyman Tom A m m ia no has gone f u r t h e r a nd i nt r o d uc e d a bill to legalise sales of

cannabis to adults. Ammiano said regulating and taxing cannabis is “simply common sense” and a levy of US$50 per ounce could generate annual tax revenue of US$1.3 billion. The State of California is US$60 billion in debt, and cannabis is one of its largest cash crops - estimated at US$14 billion, double the value

of all the wine and vegetables produced in the state. The assemblyman said a sales tax, along with savings on police and prison costs, could revive the state’s economy. However, the revenue can only be collected if federal law changes. E ve n G ove r nor A r nold Schwarzenegger suggested it was time for Californians

Obama laughs at legalisation Giv e n B a rac k O b a m a’s backg rou nd a nd some of his statements, America’s cannabis com munity had reason to hope for meaningful law reform when he was elected president. However, the early signs have been mixed. On the plus side, he has stopped federa l ra ids on medical cannabis clubs, and appointed a “drug czar” who is not a raving bigot. On the other hand, he has treated legalisation as a joke, and promised drug war aid to Mexico. During Obama’s first-ever Internet town hall meeting, questions about whether legalizing marijuana could help boost the economy received more votes from the public than any other topic, but Obama’s treated the question like a joke. “I don’t know what this says about the online audience. The answer is no, I don’t think that is a good strategy to grow our economy,”


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he said. Obama recently promised to boost Mexico’s failed war on drugs, saying “At a time when the Mexican government has so courageously taken on the drug cartels that have plagued both sides of the border, it is absolutely critical that the United States join as a full partner in dealing with this issue.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted the drugs trade was driven by the US’s “insatiable” demand. When asked whether legalising marijuana would curb the surging violence associated with drug trafficking, Mexican Ambassador to the US Arturo Sarukhan did not answer with even the slightest hint of a chuckle. “[T]hose who would suggest that some of these measures [legalisation] be looked at understand the dynamics of the drug trade,” he said. “This is a debate that needs to be taken seriously.”

to have an open debate on whether to legalise and tax ma rijua na, reca lling the Governator ta k i ng a big hit on a joint in the 1977 bodybuilding documentary Pumping Iron. “I think all of those ideas of creating extra revenues, I’m always for an open debate on it, and I think we ought to study very carefully what other countries are doing that have legalized marijuana and other drugs.”

Public support Several recent polls show voters endorse legalisation by a solid majority. The financial crisis has focused attention on the enormous waste of resources used to enforce prohibition, and the potential revenue from a legal cannabis market. Many leading media commentators and public figures, including Michael D o u g l a s, Jo e K le i n a nd Andrew Sullivan have come out in support of legalisation. Three recent nationwide polls – one by CBS News, one by Zogby, and one by Rasmussen Reports – have each reported that the public’s support for legally regulating cannabis is at an all-time high. Most recently, a California field poll found that 58 percent of state voters back regulating marijuana for adults in a manner similar to alcohol.

WORLD wide weed

Obama’s new drug boss

The time seems right to hope for change, but is it change we can believe in? Obama’s new “drug czar” is Gil Kerlikowske, the former top cop for Seattle where marijuana was made the lowest police priority and medical marijuana is legal. He says he wants to banish the idea that the US is fighting “a war on drugs”, and says he favours treatment over incarceration. In his first interview as head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Kerlikowske said “Regardless of how you try to explain to people it’s a ‘war on drugs’ or a ‘war on a product,’ people see a war as a war on them. We’re not at war with people in this country.” These words signify a huge shift in thinking by American policy makers. Kerlikowske has already pledged to stop federal raids on marijuana dispensaries in states where they are legal. That’s a great start, but he needs to go a lot further. The only real way to show the Government is not at war with the people is to completely repeal drug prohibition. All of a sudden, the chances of that happening are not so low.

US$14 billion in lost taxes No one knows the true value of America’s cannabis market, but economists have estimated it could be more than US$100 billion a year. The cost of enforcing cannabis prohibition is estimated at up to US$20 billion annually. To highlight the economic benefits of legalisation, NORML presented a mock cheque for US$14 billion to the US Treasury on Tax Day (April 15). The amount is the combined savings and tax revenues that would be generated by regulating the sale and production of cannabis like alcohol, according to a 2005 analysis by Harvard University senior lecturer Jeffrey Miron, endorsed by over 500 distinguished economists. NORML executive director Allen St. Pierre said “We represent the millions of otherwise law-abiding cannabis consumers who are ready, willing, vocal and able to contribute needed tax revenue to America’s struggling economy. All we ask in exchange for our $14 billion is that our government respects our decision to use marijuana privately and responsibly.” Support has been building in California since the state passed Proposition 215 in 1996, that legalised medical marijuana. There are now hundreds of dispensaries across the state, and they enjoy such solid public support that few politicians would now take a stand against them. Anti-drug propaganda and scaremongering has crumbled, as medical ma rijua na dispensaries improved their

communities by redirecting police priorities, lowering crimes rates, making access to marijuana safer, as well as reducing teenage use. A wave of reform subsequently swept America. Twelve more states have passed laws legalising medical use, while several local jurisdictions have made marijuana law enforcement the lowest of all police priorities.

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WORLD wide weed WITH HARRY Another champion toker Following on from Michael Phelp’s “golden bong” photo, three-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt has admitted to using cannabis in his youth. Bolt set world records in the 100 and 200 meters at the Beijing Olympics and was part of the Jamaican team that broke the world mark in the 400-meter relay. In a recent online interview he said, “In Jamaica, you learn as a child how to roll a joint. Everyone here has tried it. I did too - but I was real young then.” It’s yet more evidence that pot smoking teens can go on to become world champion athletes, and further destroys the myth that pot use causes a lack of motivation.

Game, Set, Match in California The prohibitionist refrain that US federal law trumps state medical marijuana laws has no legal merit. The US Supreme Court has rejected appeals from two hold-out counties in Southern California that objected to the state’s 13-year-old medical marijuana law. San Diego and San Bernardino counties had wanted a clear ruling on whether the state law violated the federal drug law, after San Diego NORML threatened to sue for not complying with the state law.

Kava better for anxiety New research indicates there are advantages to using kava to treat anxiety, rather than pharmaceutical drugs or alcohol. A University of Queensland trial has found anxiety dropped significantly in participants who took five kava tablets a day compared to those who took placebos. Lead researcher Jerome Sarris said the trial shows that kava offers a natural alternative for treating anxiety without the risks of conventional drugs such as benzodia zepines and antidepressants. He said people do not lose their mental clarity when they take kava. 18

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Mexico decriminalises drugs as narco violence escalates Mexico has decriminalised possession of drugs in an effort to stem corruption and redirect police resources. After thousands of violent deaths, the War on Drugs has left Mexico’s cartels stronger than ever - and the violence is crossing the American border. It has been estimated that more than 10,000 people have been killed since Mexican president Felipe Calderon launched a military offensive against drug cartels in 2006. Mexican cartels have taken over from their Colombian counterparts as the main suppliers of illegal drugs to the American market. Tourism is one of Mexico’s biggest earners, and the violence, together with swine flu and the global recession, has drastically reduced the number of visitors to the country. US extends drug war funding Mexican gangs have started cultivating large-scale cannabis plantations in the US, mainly on public lands - saving themselves the trouble of shipping their weed across the border. Fears that Mexicanstyle drug war violence would spread to the US have been hyped by the media and used to justify increased funding for Plan Mexico, an anti-drug initiative originated during George W. Bush’s presidency which is similar to earlier programs in Colombia and Bolivia. These plans all had similar results death squads, human rights violations, corruption and no reduction in supply or demand for illegal drugs. The only ones to benefit from these plans are American suppliers of military equipment. Evidently these suppliers remain influential, as Obama’s government has increased Plan Mexico’s

Felipe Calderon funding to a total of over US$1 billion for 2008-2009 - at a time when the US economy is in serious trouble and millions of Americans are losing their jobs and homes. On a visit to Mexico earlier this year, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that America would give Mexico US$80 million for “urgently needed” Black Hawk helicopters. These would be in addition to the surveillance planes and helicopters which the US has already provided to Mexico’s armed forces. The current appropriations bill not only supplies more military support, it eliminates human rights conditions in the name of the war on drugs. The lack of details in the funding proposals for Mexico’s drug war invites corruption and a lack of accountability. Ironically, just days before the latest funding was approved for Plan Mexico, Obama’s drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said it was time to end the war on drugs. Decriminalisation bill passes Amidst all the violence and fear, there is a ray of hope. In May Mexico’s Congress passed a bill decriminalising possession of small amounts of drugs,

WORLD wide weed NZ drug trade destabilises Pacific neighbour Drugs, guns and money, an inevitable result of prohibition. Below: a protest against drug war deaths.

from marijuana to methamphetamine. The bill, proposed by president Calderon, would make it legal to carry up to 5 grams of marijuana, 500 milligrams of cocaine and small quantities of heroin and methamphetamines. The bill has now become law after Calderon’s signature completed the final phase of its passage - a historic moment which the media have done their best to ignore. Mexico’s Congress passed a similar proposal in 2006 but the bill was vetoed by Calderon’s predecessor Vicente Fox, under pressure from the USA. Narcoculture Mexico’s congressional elections will be held on July 5. One of the parties seeking seats is the Social Democratic Party, which is in favour of legalizing drugs. Four of its candidates have been physically attacked while campaigning. Party chairman Jose Carlos Diaz Cuervo said the assaults have “a clear intention to intimidate us ... something we interpret as a sign we are doing well. Doubtless, unlike the federal government, it appears the drug traffickers do understand that the regulation of that market would take the business away from them and would be a more intelligent way to combat them.” While less intelligent ways prevail, Mexico’s drug lords have become icons in the popular culture, known as narcocultura. Songs, films and soap operas about drug traffickers flamboyant, generous characters who evade capture or die in stunningly brutal ways - reach a huge audience. History has taught Mexicans not to

trust authority, and drug gangs appeal to impoverished people - the majority of Mexico’s population - who are often mistreated by the police. Earlier this year the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquin Guzman known as El Chapo - made Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires, ranked at 701. In 2001 he escaped from prison, reportedly in the back of a laundry truck. A US$5 million reward for his capture has remained unclaimed ever since. Heads of state call for reform The Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy includes three former presidents: Cesar Gaviria of Colombia, Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Fernando Cardoso of Brazil, along with leaders in many fields, from generals to writers, throughout Latin America. In its report, Drugs and Democracy, it says: “Confronted with a situation that is growing worse by the day, it is imperative to rectify the ‘war on drugs’ strategy pursued in the region over the past 30 years. Prohibitionist policies based on the eradication of production and on the disruption of drug flows as well as on the criminalization of consumption have not yielded the expected results. We are farther than ever from the announced goal of eradicating drugs.”

Not only is New Zealand’s War on Drugs making our communities more dangerous as newly-wealthy criminals arm themselves to protect their patch and profits, the drug trade is destabilising our Pacific neighbours. Television New Zealand has reported that gangs in Samoa are selling methamphetamine and cannabis imported from New Zealand, then using the proceeds to finance gun smuggling from the USA. The Tautu a S a moa Pa r t y h a s que stioned the allegations. Its chairman, Lealailepule Rimoni Aiafi, said Samoa has problems with drugs just like any country. He called on the government to get to the bottom of the allegations and said if they are found to be false, the government should demand an apology from TVNZ and its reporter should be banned from the country.

Prince of Pot to be jailed in USA Marc Emery pleads guilty to distribution charge Canadian pot entrepreneur Marc Emery expects to serve 8-10 years in US jails for distributing marijuana seeds. Emery sold millions of seeds by mail order, kickstarted a pot revolution in Canada, and used the profits to fund law reform efforts around the world. This naturally made him a target of the DEA, who are seeking to extradite him to the USA. After a 4 year battle Marc’s lawyer told him there is no way he will win in court. A judgement against him could see Mr Emery serve 20 years plus huge fines. In exchange for the guilty plea more serious conspiracy and laundering charges will be dropped. Marc is embarking on a 4-week “Farewell Canada” tour, and his magazine Cannabis Culture will become an online-only publication. More info at

Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S


Case study

lessons from

l a g u t Por P

ortugal is no longer the great power it once was when it divided the world between itself and Spain. Like New Zealand, it’s a small country that has influence far beyond its size. Today, Portugal is the country that may influence drug policy reform world-wide. Portugal is important because it’s the only member of the European Union whose law explicitly declares drug use to be “decriminalised”. Not only that, but the law applies to ALL drug use, not just cannabis. So, while many European countries have de facto decriminalisation of some drugs – those considered less harmful – all except Portugal still have formal criminal sanctions against drug use. Since the law was changed in 2001, its real effects can be studied – to see if it is working as intended. American lawyer Glenn Greenwald recently conducted an analysis on behalf of the CATO Institute. He says: “Whatever else is true, the empirical evidence leaves no doubt that Portuguese decriminalisation has been a resounding success.” Even a sceptic at the CATO presentation “conceded that decriminalisation achieved its policy goals and produced none of the bad results which decriminalisation opponents warned about.” • It succeeded in reducing the health consequences of drug use. • It did not lead to Lisbon becoming a


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drug tourist destination. • Most importantly, while there was some increased usage in the age bracket 20-24, in the vital age group 15-19, and the younger, schoolage group (Year 8-10) there was a decrease in almost all types of drug use since decriminalisation! Walter Kemp, a spokesperson for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, says decriminalisation in Portugal “appears to be working.” He could give only one reason for his office not supporting decriminalisation: “because it smacks of legalisation.” Is there any other area of public policy where officials admit something works, but remain opposed to it? Sadly, drug policy is often driven by

“Personal possession and consumption of all narcotics, no matter where they occur or for what purpose, are now decriminalised in Portugal.”

FACT FILE: Portugal has a relaxed, yet thriving cannabis scene, with a grow shop in virtually every town. Drug use is decriminalised and people openly grow in their gardens or balconies. Most growers plant feminised seeds outdoors.

ideology, not evidence. And while American officials (from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs) repeatedly declined to comment on the report, Newsweek magazine has noted: “A new study shows that Portugal, which became the only Western nation to decriminalize possession of ALL drugs (even heroin and meth) in 2001, saw no sharp increase in usage among the young and no drug tourism. Drug deaths are way down”. (Newsweek: June 1, 2009)

What happened in 2001? On July 1, 2001, Portugal decriminalised (not legalised) all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. The result is that drug possession for personal use and drug usage itself are still legally prohibited, but violations were removed completely from the criminal realm. Infractions of the prohibitions were to be treated as administrative violations and receive non-criminal treatment. Personal use was defined as being

Drug Policy

sufficient for 10 days’ use by one person, and drug trafficking continues to be prosecuted as a criminal offence. Decriminalisation or Depenalisation? The Portuguese law of 2001 must be distinguished from other law reforms in Europe which have resulted in depenalisation – a reform sometimes promoted in New Zealand. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction has defined “decriminalisation” and “depenalisation” as: Decriminalisation comprises removal of a conduct or activity from the sphere of criminal law. Prohibition remains the rule, but sanctions for use …. no longer fall within the framework of the criminal law. Depenalisation means relaxation of the penal sanction provided for by law. In the case of drugs, and cannabis in particular, depenalisation generally signifies the elimination of custodial penalties (that is, jail terms). Fines, a police record, and parole still remain as possible penalties. One of the objectives of the law change was to take drug use out of the criminal arena so that Portugal could best meet health objectives, such as reducing drug-related deaths and the spread of HIV and Aids. Research had shown that fear of the criminal justice system was one of the major reasons for drug users not to seek help, and the new Portuguese drug policy was adopted to solve a worsening drug problem. It worked!

“Prevalence rates for the 15–19 age group have actually decreased in absolute terms since decriminalization.” Penalties that the Commission may set: • The commission usually issues a warning, and penalties cannot be imposed for non-addicted consumers with no prior offences. • As “a last resort”, non-addicted consumers might have to pay a fine or a non-monetary penalty, ranging from 25 euros upwards. • An addict with no prior offences who agrees to treatment cannot be penalised. • Addicts cannot be forced to seek treatment, but the Commission may (and usually does) make suspension of sanctions conditional on the offender seeking treatment. If treatment is completed and there is no subsequent offence, the proceedings cease. • The Dissuasion Commissions are able to impose on addicts a wider

range of sanctions, including suspension of the right to practice a licensed profession; a ban on visiting high-risk locales (such as nightclubs); a ban on associating with specified individuals, and so on. Penalties would depend on factors including the type of drug consumed and whether consumption was public or private. • Minors (those under 18) who are cited for drugs enter the same process and are assisted by a legal representative. • Providing drugs to a minor (or people with mental illness) continues to be forbidden. Trafficking is punishable by imprisonment of between 4 to 12 years.

Decriminalisation in Practice The effect that the decriminalisation regime has had on police conduct with regard to drug users is still being debated, according to Greenwald. There may be a generational difference within the Police. “Younger officers (may) view the administrative process as the best hope for containing addiction.” Officials familiar with the Dissuasion Commission process “emphasize that the overriding goal of that process is to

“Commissions of Dissuasion” Police officers who spot drug use or possession can issue citations to the offender, but are not permitted to make an arrest. Instead of criminalisation, Portuguese law establishes “Commissions for Dissuasions of Drug Addiction” with sole responsibility for dealing with administrative drug offences. The Commission is not a “Drug Court” and avoids any such appearance. Its three members include one lawyer and two appointed members (usually with a medical or social services background). If the commission finds compelling evidence of drug trafficking, it will refer the case to the criminal court.

Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S


Case study

lessons from Portugal

Nice view

“The total number of drugrelated deaths has actually decreased from the predecriminalization year of 1999 (when it totalled close to 400) to 2006 (when the total was 290)”.


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avoid the stigma that arises from criminal proceedings. Each step of the process is structured so as to de-emphasize or even eliminate any notion of “guilt” from drug usage and instead to emphasize the health and treatment aspects of the process… At all times, respect for the alleged offender is emphasized.” In 2005, in a country of 10 million, there were 3,192 commission rulings. Of those, 83 percent suspended the proceeding, and only 15 percent imposed actual sanctions. Of the cases where sanctions were imposed, the overwhelming majority merely required the offenders to report periodically to the authorities. Drug Tourism fears prove groundless Before the enactment of the decriminalisation law, opponents insisted that the proposed change in law would make Portugal a centre of so-called drug tourism. Such fears have turned out to be misguided. Roughly 95 percent of

those cited for drug offences every year since decriminalisation have been Portuguese. Next were Angolans. Citizens of all other European Union nations made up barely 1 percent. Political Climate for Reform Greenwald reports that the political impetus for decriminalisation was the perception that drug abuse was becoming an uncontrollable social problem, and the main obstacles to effective policies were the treatment barriers and resource drain imposed by the criminalisation regime. Decriminalisation was driven not by the perception that drug abuse was an insignificant problem, but rather by the consensus view that it was a highly significant problem, that criminalisation was exacerbating the problem, and that only decriminalisation could enable an effective government response. The law change occurred only after extensive study by an elite

Drug Policy

commission, the Commission for a National Anti-Drug Strategy, which in 1998 recommended decriminalisation as the optimal strategy for combating their drug problems.


Portugal – lessons for New Zealand? New Zealand, like Portugal in 1998, is widely perceived to have increasing social problems arising from illegal drug use, and has given the task of finding solutions to its Law Commission. Internationally, the trend is towards a health-based approach, as in Portugal, and the Law Commission is likely to follow this trend. Long term, New Zealand needs to look at alternatives to prohibition itself, not merely the decriminalisation of drug use. However, as a working model of how to improve health outcomes

and combat addiction effectively, the Portuguese model offers considerable hope. Drug law reform requires political will – and the most hopeful sign that Portugal could be a model for New Zealand is that decriminalisation has become increasingly popular in Portugal since 2001. Very few politicians are agitating for repeal. Changes may need to be made to Portugal’s new law to make it more efficient and effective, but there is no real debate about whether drugs should once again be criminalised. New Zealand MPs, take note! This article draws mainly on a study on the success of drug decriminalisation in Portugal by Glenn Greenwald for the CATO Institute. A video of his presentation and the full report are at and portugalreport

Northern Lights Auckland Cannabis Cup entry ‘E’


Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S


NZ Law Commission

Drug reports agree: s i b a n n a c End ! n o i t i b i proh


t last, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 is being independently reviewed, by the New Zealand Law Commission. The latest word is that the Law Commission’s planned discussion paper will be released near the end of 2009. Drug law reform is long overdue, but at least NORML can make use of the extra time to prepare for the coming public debate. Dozens of government-appointed commissions have already examined the effects of marijuana, and made policy recommendations regarding its use. Overwhelmingly, the conclusions of these expert panels have been the same: marijuana prohibition causes more harm than marijuana use, and the possession of marijuana for personal use should not be a criminal offense.

The Law Commission has a mandate to make proposals that are consistent with our international treaty obligations. Even so, it should clearly state that current law, whether it’s the New Zealand Act or international drug conventions, has largely failed in its purpose of protecting the health of the public from drug harm. In the end, the international prohibitionist treaties need to be replaced with a better model. What else should the Law Commission say? It’s likely the discussion paper will propose a set of principles or criteria on which alternative drug policies can be measured and judged. Then, we can expect some evaluation of the existing law against those principles, and some evaluation or discussion of some specific alternatives. The Commission needs to go further than merely admitting that prohibition has not protected the public as was intended. Worse, the harms caused by prohibition itself now far outweigh the harms caused by the illegal drugs themselves. Prohibition is not just a failure, but a very expensive failure. The problem is that current law is heavily focussed on supply, not demand. Almost all the money is spent on trying to block supply, with far too little on health (treatment) and education (reducing demand). While successive governments pay lip service to the idea of a balanced policy, the reality is that our drug policy needs to become far more health-oriented and far less crimeoriented. It needs to be effective in reducing access and use


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waz’s weed canterbury

of all drugs, legal and illegal, by those under 18. Internationally, the trend is to harm-reduction and towards achieving better health outcomes. In some respects, the whole concept of prohibition is in crisis. Despite vast expense, its failure is evident. The Obama administration is signalling a new approach, declaring that the term “War on Drugs” is outdated. It’s time to end the drug wars, as magazines like The Economist and Newsweek suggested recently.

“Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use.” - US President Jimmy Carter, message to Congress, August 2, 1977. New Zealand desperately needs an informed debate about where our policy on illegal drugs is taking us. NORML will be ready – but will the Law Commission provide the kind of discussion paper New Zealand needs? Lets hope so!

Drug law review

Here’s what other inquiries have said about cannabis laws:

Mako Haze Kiwiseeds, Amsterdam


“[T]he current prohibition regime is not effective in limiting cannabis use. Prohibition results in high conviction rates for a relatively minor offence, which inhibits people’s education, travel and employment opportunities. Prohibition makes targeting education, prevention, harm minimisation and treatment measures difficult because users fear prosecution. It also facilitates the black market, and potentially exposes cannabis users to harder drugs... Some of us believe that cannabis should be regulated, like tobacco and alcohol.” - New Zealand Parliamentary Health Select Committee, 2003.

“the Committee recommends that the Government ... create a criminal exemption scheme, under which the production and sale of cannabis would be licensed, [and] … to permit persons over the age of 16 to “We recommend that procure cannabis and its derivatives based on the evidence at duly licensed distribution received, the government centers.” - Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal review the appropriateness Drugs. 2002. of existing policy on cannabis We support... reclassify[ing] cannabis from Class B to Class C ... [so that] possession of cannabis would cease to be an ‘arrestable offense.’” - British House of Commons Home Affairs Committee. 2002.

and its use and reconsider the legal status of cannabis.”

- New Zealand Parliamentary harmful properties, prohibition Health Select Committee. 1998. through criminal law is not a Inquiry into the Mental Health proper approach in controlling Effects of Cannabis. these properties and effects.” -

“the National Commission is recommending ... that ganja be decriminalized for the private, personal use of small quantities by adults.” - Jamaican National Commission on Ganja. 2001. “The criminal sanction for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for personal use by a person aged eighteen or over should be eliminated.” - New Mexico Governor’s Drug Policy Advisory Group. 2001.

“the Federal Commission unanimously recommends the elaboration of a model which not only removes the prohibition of consumption and possession, but also makes it possible for cannabis to be purchased lawfully.” - Swiss Federal Commission for Drug Issues. 1999. “Australia experiences more harm, we conclude, from maintaining the cannabis prohibition policy than it experiences from use of the drug. ... cannabis law reform is required in this country.” - Australian Department of Health and Aged Care. 1994.

“Possession of marijuana for personal use should no longer be a criminal offense.” - Australian Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare. 1977. “Even assuming marijuana has some undesirable or

California Legislature Senate Select Committee on Control of Marijuana. 1974.

“The costs to a significant number of individuals, the majority of whom are young people, and to society generally, of a policy of prohibition of simple possession are not justified by the potential for harm of cannabis” - Canadian Government Commission of Inquiry, 1973 (The Le Dain Commission). “The Commission recommends only the following changes in federal law: Possession of marihuana for personal use would no longer be an offense. ... Casual distribution of small amounts of marihuana for no remuneration, or insignificant remuneration not involving profit would no longer be an offense.” - US National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse. 1972. Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding (The Shafer Report).

“The publicity concerning the catastrophic effects of marihuana smoking in New York City is unfounded.” The LaGuardia Committee Report, 1944. “The moderate use produces practically no ill effects.” Indian Hemp Commission Report, 1894. For more see Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S



N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S


Policy options

t i f e n e B Cost Analysis of


Drug Laws


onsidering the huge cost of enforcement and the obvious social cost of prosecuting and imprisoning offenders, it is hard to fathom why a cost-benefit analysis of the prohibition has never been done. by Brandon Hutchison

The Blake-Palmer report in the early 1970s suggested that prohibition should only continue if shown to be effective, implying some kind of study was required. Under the Shipley government a small sum was budgeted for a study when the national drug policy was launched, but this item quickly disappeared off the agenda and no study was done apparently. The NZ Law Commission has been working on a review of the Misuse of Drugs Act for 18 months and is due to release a draft report in August. The terms of reference of this review still appear to assume a prohibitionist framework but are flexible enough that a fundamental look at prohibition itself is possible. Perhaps lawyers will succeed where economists failed. In the UK, the drug policy organization “Transform” has just published a 50 page analysis report comparing the cost-effectiveness of current prohibition with a possible regulatory model for drugs. This paper appears motivated by the need to separate the harms due to policy from those due to drugs per se: “Current approaches ignore the basic finding that the policy of prohibition itself is the direct source of much of what is perceived as the ‘drug problem’ - specifically the vast majority of drug-related crime - rather than drug use per se”. With regard to this common problem of conflating drug harms with those created by drug policy, Transform’s report criticizes David Nutt for doing just this in his famous 2007 Lancet paper listing drugs in order of their potential harm. The placement of heroin at the top of this scale is due to harms created by policy, not by any inherent harm of heroin suggest Transform. Perhaps if Nutt had listed heroin


N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

Money or the bag? as having lower harm ranking than alcohol, as he did with cannabis, LSD, and ecstasy it would have been too much to accept in one paper. The report also attacks the clear dishonesty of the government and others such as the UNODC in purporting to have evidence against drug policy reform that does not exist: “Serious policy decisions by the Government are being based on data that has never been collected... analysis that has demonstrably not been done...and with specific references to cost-benefit studies that do not exist.” The Transform analysis was limited to heroin and cocaine, because these drugs are claimed by the government to cause the most harm. The scope was limited to England and Wales. Included in the analysis: crime, enforcement, mortality, health and care, youth costs, prescription costs, regulatory administration. A list of the costs of prohibition was identified but many excluded from the analysis because

Drug law review



• New Zealand’s drugs trade is now a massive illegal business worth an estimated $1.5 billion a year. • Customs believe they catch only 20 per cent of what’s imported and police think they are finding less than 10 per cent of P labs. • Meth cases are almost 50 per cent of all cases heard in the High Court, even though for sentencing the courts regard major meth dealers on a par with murderers. • Last year former Justice Minister Annette King said none of the Government’s moves were having any effect on the price, purity or availability of the drug. although very real, they are hard to quantify. Exclusions include, costs to individuals from convictions (travel, employment, housing), costs of sex-work to fund drug habits, fostering of corruption, impacts on confidence in government and police, youth-police relations, human rights and of most importance the UK’s contribution to the global drug war which causes huge damage to political, economic, and social systems in some countries. These exclusions make the analysis very conservative indeed and potentially much more credible.

The Analysis: Four regulatory scenarios were compared with current prohibition: A= an assumed 50% fall in drug use; B= no change in drug use; C= 50% increase in use; and D= 100% increase in use. These were compared to the costs under the current law: Scenario

Current law





Costs £16.79b £3.15b £5.95b £8.75b £11.55b So unless drug use under regulation increased spectacularly, a possibility the report discusses in detail and discounts, a regulatory system would be more cost effective even with this limited conservative analysis. The report argues that the impact of drug policy on levels of use and misuse has been dramatically overstated. It says ”Through a combination of evidence-led deployment of public health-based regulatory tools and increased choice, we can reasonably speculate that social norms about more responsible drug use could be fostered and that use would migrate overtime from more to less harmful drugs... it is possible and we would suggest likely that drugrelated health risks/harms/costs per user, under a regulated model, would decrease...“ The report shows clear benefits from moving away from prohibition, but the benefits would be much more dramatic if the major harms caused by prohibition were added in. It raises the need for much more research on the effects of policy, especially on the areas that were excluded from the analysis. Transform’s report can be downloaded from TransformCBApaper.pdf NZ DHI is on the BERL website www.berl.

UN review fails


t a landmark meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) held in Vienna in March, the UN Drug Czar Antonio Costa declared that the drug “problem” had been “contained” and “stabilised”. These statements from this self-assured spin-doctor filled some with amusement, and others with dismay. This year’s CND session was held to review progress 11 years after the UN General Assembly declared there would be a “drug free world” by 2008. This impossible aim, widely derided at the time, and now generally seen as a spectacular failure, was quickly watered down and completely forgotten by 2009 so only a few at the CND felt embarrassed at Costa’s declaration of success. For two years leading up to the March CND meeting, a global network of non-government groups (NGOs) working in the drug area developed a declaration (see “Beyond 2008” in earlier Norml News) for the CND to consider. This called for less emphasis on enforcement, acceptance of harm reduction principles, consideration of human rights, and wider consultation. Despite this, the Beyond 2008 group was given a mere 5 minutes to present to the CND, and the final outcome was more of the same. International drug policy expert Professor Robin Room, writing in New Scientist about the Vienna meeting, suggests that international discussions on drugs ignore evidence and have become absurd. Highlights of the meeting were an attempt by a German-led EU group to have the UN embrace harm reduction principles, but this was quashed by the US-dominated faction. Bolivian President Morales called for the relegalisation of the coca leaf, and reinforced this by chewing one while addressing the meeting from the podium. This is the first time a government has actually called for a reversal of the prohibition of a drug. New Zealand played a significant role in the event by providing a chairperson for a side-session on demand reduction. This was Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne, who despite his extreme support of prohibition in NZ, gave a reasonably balanced presentation to the CND, all things considered. Some have suggested that if the commission had met even just a few months later, the more thoughtful direction from the Obama administration would have filtered down to US officials in Vienna, and a new era - Brandon in global drug policy may have followed. Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S


Policy options


Alchemy of Prohibition$


urrent drug laws achieve what the alchemists from the Middle Ages couldn’t manage: turning low cost plant material into something much more valuable. by Brandon Hutchison

Early December last year, the NZ Police announced that they had saved the country an estimated $336 million in “socio-economic harm” as a result of their anti-cannabis campaign for the previous year when they had seized, among other things, 128,000 cannabis plants. Detective Sergeant McGill said that this money saved the taxpayer from “drug-related expenses” that would have been spent on drug related crime and health expenses (ref: Stuff website). These figures were calculated using the NZ Drug Harm Index (DHI). In early May, NZ Customs announced the seizure of 40Kgs of Cold-Flu pills containing pseudoephedrine hidden in bags of soap powder. They asserted that this seizure had saved the community between $3 and $4.5 million “worth of harm”, again calculated using the DHI. Despite criticisms at its inception that the DHI contained several fundamental flaws, it seems that police and customs are determined to refer to it as often as possible to justify their drug seizures. Unfortunately it is not a case of the DHI being better than nothing. A simple examination shows it to be worse than useless.

What is the Drug Harm Index? The DHI report was published by the economic research organisation BERL in 2008 as a tool for Police for evaluating their drug prohibition activities. It places a dollar value per kilogram on the purported harm that various illicit drugs cause if they are not intercepted before reaching users (see

Blueberry Surprise

‘Harm’ per kilogram and per user Source: Table 2 from NZ Drug Harm Index $ drug harm





Per kilogram





Per User

$ 1,694




Notes: 1. As a billion dollars of pure “harm”, a kilogram of LSD would be something to see. 2. From this table, Cannabis users may like to consider negotiating with the authorities to pay a $1694 tax as their share of the harm they allegedly cause, in return for being left alone by Police? table above). It then multiplies these by the kilograms seized over the years as a measure of the harm supposedly prevented by law enforcement activity. This latter figure is labelled the NZ Drug Harm Index. It increases with increasing Law enforcement activity.

How the harms are derived


The report adds up: • An assumed 25% of street value for cannabis and 5% for other drugs as the production cost, totalling $518M for years 2005 and 2006. This item contributes the largest part of the total tangible harm (47%) • Drug law enforcement (police, customs, courts, corrections) and crime costs directly drug-related and drug prohibition related. ( $413M or 38% of tangible harm). • Losses to the labour force because drug users die or get sick (10%) • Health costs (the report focuses on HIV, HepC, and depression in drugs users) and traffic accidents (5%) In addition to these alleged tangible costs, the report adds in $200M of intangibles based on loss of life, or quality of life using the Land Transport value for a statistical life of $3M In total the report declares there was $1.3billion social costs for the years 2005-6 due to drug use. The terms “social costs” and “harm” seem to be used interchangeably in the report.

Problems with the Drug Harm Index Although there is potential for numerous challenges to the details, data and reasoning used in this report, two major deficiencies are considered here. The report expressly states that it won’t consider any benefit from drug use or production. It “assumes that illicit drug consumption is abusive and imposes a social cost. Therefore all resources diverted by illicit drug consumption are regarded as social costs”. So everything to do with drugs is a cost. While ardent prohibitionists may agree with that premise, it really is just


N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009


Drug law review

a reflection of the prejudices of the report’s authors and funders. This premise generates 47% of the tangible costs listed above, when really there is nothing inherently harmful about growing plants, even if some of those plants may be involved in some subsequent harm. In effect it is saying I don’t like what you do therefore it is harmful. This is arbitrary. Society has no intrinsic general right to judge and control what we do with our time and resources and declare our private harmless activities as costs on society, and then to morph those costs into “harms”. An aggravating factor is that this imaginary harm gives rise to circular reasoning from some quarters. “I don’t like that activity. Therefore everything to do with it is a harm, Look how harmful that activity is. I was right to not like it”. Attributing any benefit to drug use and production would cause 47% to vanish from the index. Moreover, intangible benefits of drug use could be included if there was a suitable way of valuing them, thus further reducing net harm. Using the logic of the DHI, any activity, for example playing rugby or going to church, could be considered to generate great harm to society.


he second major defect considered here is the bane of rational drug policy debate. As can be seen from the costs table above, the report includes the costs of enforcing prohibition and the harms that are generated or exacerbated by prohibition, as a cost against drugs rather than a cost of policy. While this logical fallacy is commonly perpetrated by populist politicians and some lay people, it is astounding to see it appear as a cornerstone of such a well-resourced and supposedly scholarly document as this report ought to be. Remedying this would remove another 40% of the tangible costs and also substantially reduce the intangibles. Again this leads to circular reasoning. Prohibit something (for whatever reason). Vigorously enforce the prohibition. Blame the enforcement costs on the original prohibited entity. Then use the costs to justify the original prohibition. As well as enforcement costs, prohibition-generated crime and disease is also listed in the report as costs against drug use. Most crime that is labelled “drug-related” is acquisitional and generated by the massively inflated prices in the illicit market, not by any inherent property of the drug per se. The exception to this is of course, alcohol which generates an epidemic of violence in the home and on the streets and carnage on the roads, and to a much lesser extent stimulant drugs such as methamphetamine which,

MacDaddy as the media incessantly tells us, makes a few people very violent. Alcohol however is legal so acquisitional crime associated with it very minor. The inclusion of the costs of HIV and HepC is similarly problematic as there is good evidence that the spread of these diseases has been exacerbated by the unhealthy environment generated by prohibition (eg, sharing unclean needles). Similarly, the death rate due to overdoses is considered to increase substantially as a result of prohibition. The UK organisation Transform use a figure of 100%, but others have suggested much higher increases. None of this is intended to suggest that drugs and their use are without harm but this report wildly exaggerates that harm and mis-attributes the causes of it. Instead of $1300 million, a tenth or less of that would be a more reasonable cost of drug abuse for the two years considered, noting that most drug use is not abuse, or problematic.


o be fair, the report wasn’t presented as a costbenefit analysis and we shouldn’t begrudge the Police developing in-house tools for prioritising their limited resources. However, this report goes far beyond that as it is used in a public way to justify police actions, and now also by politicians to justify continuing and extending the policies which cause so much of the harm that the report claims to measure. Recently the Prime Minister raised the possibility of trying to control methamphetamine by banning some flu medicines from sale in pharmacies. While the current “P” moral panic is a ready made bandwagon for any politician to jump on, before advocating any more extremism they should at least have the chance of behaving in a rational, informed way by having good expert information available. The NZ Drug Harm Index is not. It is a potpourri of confused logic, and large fanciful or almost meaningless numbers, all at the taxpayers’ expense. The Police apparently wasted $125000 on it. Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S


Cannabis culture

Inside the

Auckland Cannabis Cup “D

amn, that shit is pretty unbeatable.” These were the words of a fellow entrant at the 6th annual Auckland Cannabis Cup, upon having a fat, sticky bud of Te Kakariki thrust under his nose, and a fat joint into his hand.

And this year, like the four previous years, he was right. Te Kakariki has won it’s 5th cup, topping the indoor competition 3 times and now the 2nd time in the outdoor category. Their mantlepiece must be groaning with trophies by now. Anyone who has had the pleasure of coming across this Kiwi strain will know why: dense clusters of calyxes absolutely dripping with resin, a Rhino-like bouquet to die for, and a powerful knock-out high that will cut across even the heavy sedation that can come towards the tail end of a cannabis cup! The competition this year was especially fierce, with twenty entries neatly lined up in display bowls along the central table. More than one hundred judges from near and far had patiently waited for the secret location to be announced. At seven they were told and it didn’t take long for the place to be packed and the judging to start.


N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

The entries: A: The Hog (Indoor, from FAB) an indica with huge calyxes and a thick sour aroma. B: MacDaddy (I, The Contender) dense nugs with hints of melon and sage. C: Blueberry Surprise (I, Reeceasaurus Rex), dripping with trichomes and a nice berry flavour. D: Somango (I, Fruity Loops), sugar frosted with a melon smell. E: Northern Lights (I, from Rehab) a classic NL cola: big, solid, resinous and stinky! F: Devil’s Lettuce (I, WW) surprised many with it’s smooth flavour. G: Purple Manic (I, Mike) these striking purple, green and orange nugs finished 3rd Place Indoor. H: Psycho Killer (I, Talking Heads) the 30x loupé revealed copious amounts of shining resin glands. I: Hillbilly (I, Hillbilly) lived up to the hype and came 1st Place Indoor.

Huge, fat colas coated in resin, with a delicious flavour and potent high. J: Rongoa (Outdoor, from Tuksta) a delicious flavour ensured this ‘medical’ strain came 3rd Place. K: Kurirua (O, King G) a tasty indica. L: Waitakerhino (O, Westie) had that characteristic Rhino lemon-pine taste. M: Stink Bitch (O, Naki) great name and a mean smoke. N: Tyre (O, Dug) Finished last. O: Te Kakariki (O, Maori Wowie) 1st Place Outdoor. Top quality in every aspect. Looks fantastic. Tight manicuring and proper curing. Delicious silky-smooth flavour, with an almost too-powerful narcotic stone. P: Hydro Afghani (I, the Daktory) hard nugs with that old school taste. Q: Coronaki Afi (O, Flying High) a huge purple-tinged cola, it finished in 2nd Place of the Outdoor this year. R: Mad Cow (O, Mountain Guru) fat purple calyxes from the Naki S: Sativaction (O, Kaitaia Fire) was a spicy organic pure sativa from the sunny far north. T: The Rock (I, Te Rohe Potae) sticky trichome-laden tops with a nice uplifting high, came 2nd Place Indoor.


Photos & story by Chris Fowlie

Cannabis culture Indoor winner Hillbilly

Left: Twenty strains filled the judging table

Outdoor winner Te Kakariki


e From le

i, Som , Kakarik ft: Hillbilly

ango, Purp

le Manic

Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S


Cannabis culture The Judging

From above: the cups; Purple Manic; a speedtoking Dakta Green; Mad Cow; Top Right: King Ganja, functioning pothead. Opposite page: Somango; Hillbilly.


N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

Points were awarded for looks, smell, and smoke - the taste, smoke, and overall effect. Entries were divided into indoor and outdoor categories, with samples labelled only A, B, C, etc. Judges passed pre-rolled joints to and fro (unbleached organic Raw papers for the outdoor entries, and ultra-thin Smoking Deluxe papers for the indoor entries, identified by their entry letter written on the filter). Sometimes the calls of ‘got any I?’ or ‘here’s the G’ or ‘let’s smoke some P!’ got a bit confusing, but if judges needed more help to make up their minds entries could be sampled at the spotting booth or using digital vaporisers. The location itself was a visual work of art, with trippy lighting and plenty of nooks and crannies. The food was delicious and abundant, as you’d hope for a party full of people with the munchies! As well as top DJ’s such as the Submariner, Sandy Bay, Killa Fire Burn and MC Grassroots, there was a juggling show from Paul.y.Paul, and for the first time, a contest to find the Functioning Pothead of the Year! The competition involved entrants answering questions like “spell marijuana backwards” (try doing that

The Rock Te Rohe Potae

after sampling twenty strains!), speed rolling, speed toking, and performing the police field sobriety test. This had contestants nearly falling over backwards as they attempted to touch their nose while standing on one leg, or walking a straight line that they could barely see in the dim lighting. The inaugural medal was easily won by the Naki’s King Ganja, and deservedly so. The dude is a living embodiment of the cannabis culture and it was obvious he took his judging very seriously. When I asked if he wouldn’t mind helping out with the knives, his only condition was that he roll the spots too. The Winners This year’s beautiful trophies, as seen on these pages and

on the cover, were made by New Jewellery on Lorne St. They are works of art and the winners certainly deserve them. With that many entries being smoked, it’s not surprising that bouquet and appearance can dominate the judging. However in this case the two winners, Hillbilly and Te Kakariki, were clearly ahead of the field - impressive as it was. It will be interesting to see what growers come up with next year. The challenge is now over to other budding entrants: will you be the one to finally beat Te Kakariki, if that is possible?

Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S



Bubbleman: talking heads W

ell known among hash connoisseurs, Bubbleman has promoted the ice water extraction process for the last ten years with his company Fresh Headies, makers of the Bubble Bag system. This is now an eight bag kit, that comes with or without a compact specialised washing machine, which lets anyone extract the active ingredients of cannabis. He’s also an accomplished pot-ographer, specialising in macro photos of mouth-watering trichomes and full-melt bubble hash. Chris Fowlie caught up with Bubbleman in Amsterdam over a lump of Shibani Amber - water hash from a Pakistani strain grown in Morocco - as they discussed the elusive search for an unadulterated high.

What’s the most important thing to understand about making great hash? Where the medicinal values of cannabis exist are in the glandular trichome head. Not in the stalk, not the pistil hairs, not in the bud or the plant matter. Unless they have broken off and lodged into the leaf or melted onto the leaf, they don’t exist in those places. They just grow in the gland head. So if you remove as much contaminant from those heads as possible, like the plant matter, the stalks, and the seeds, the pistilate hairs and you get just these heads, upward of 90 to 98 percent pure heads under the microscope, then you are really truly experiencing the medicine of cannabis. Why would we dilute it, even it was diluted on the plant matter? Why would we dilute it at all? Everyone always says when the have a hit of the full melt, the high is incredibly clear. Compared to smoking a blunt or some other method of smoking, it is an incredibly clear, up, high.


N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

Getting these heads into at pure state is to acquire the best possible hash. Obviously at one point you will realise you can go through the cannabis strains to find where the really best is for one for you, depending on what you use it for recreational or medicinal. But what the water does is it allows the laymen, Joe Blow, everyday citizen Joe, to make a quality of hash that is unparalleled to anything that they would have ever tried to make before. The use and the ease, with the transfer chamber of the water keeping everything floating, while the resin breaks and sinks. The glandular trichome head secretes these cannabinoids and terpenes and turpeniods inside the head and the outside is a wax membrane, so when we freeze this wax membrane with the ice and the water it becomes brittle, and when we mix it up in the machine, in the Bubble Now my little washing machine, it washes the resin off. It breaks it off the plant and then it falls through this screen bag that is holding all the leaf together. They sink in the water. That transfer chamber of

water really makes it so people can make a pure form of hash, whereas dry sifting - the same technique with dry screens - it is one in a thousand people who can make a melty product with dry sifting screens. It is an art form. When you do a sift and you get this gold powder, unless you are using a microscope, you are not going to get a pure product. You are going to end up getting capitate stalks and cystolith hairs. They can make up 60 to 70% of the hash, non-active material. And if you don’t understand that they are non active and you don’t understand that only the head is active then you realise, well that’s the best you can make it and that is what most people think. Other people, very far and few between, realise that you can use tighter screens to gently with a card slide back and forth the resin - in a cold environment - and those stalks will become brittle. Walking them back and forth over the screen will push those stalks and cystolith hairs through and leave the heads on top. It is very labour intensive. It takes a long


full-melt bubble

these beautiful trichome macro shots were taken by Bubbleman

time to do a small amount that way. There are other methods to acquire full melt dry sift, like putting a bunch of bud in a silver bowl and putting it into your freezer. Just give it a couple of swirls. The resin that will stick to the outside of that, if you put your finger and gooped it all up, will be a full melt hit. But that is not making an ounce, that is not making ten grams and the bubble bags do. How do people get the most from their bags? Listen to the directions. Following the directions is definitely the way for people to get the most from their bags. At the least, it’s the way to get their bearings with the bags. It’s where you get your starting point. Even if you fuck it up and do it all wrong, you can still make an incredibly strong water hash compared to what you know. But the point is that if you do it all right and you use the right material and you don’t make these mistakes, you can make exceptional hash. It’s a very different quality of high. The key instruction is not to over mix. Since I’ve been selling the BubbleNow that’s really improved. Anyone who’s thinking to get the most, they want to get more. All they’re really doing is cutting their hash. You’re not getting more, you’re lowering the quality of your hash There is a lot to learn from using all the bags and separating all the grades because you can actually separate the different highs. You can separate out the munchies from the knockouts. I figure if the plant wanted us to get high, and we are humans, we would want it do it in the purest form.

What difference has the ice hash products made to global hash making and appreciation? It has put hash back in the hands of the every day Joe. Back in the day you had to know someone who knew someone. He doesn’t have to go down to the pool hall and try and buy it. Dudes all over the place are making their own bubble, even if it is from compressed Mexican weed that they are buying, or if it is from their own little crop that they have people are making it themselves. It is really quick and clean and easy. Are there any tricks to cleaning it up? The biggest trick is having a spray bottle of ice cold water. Then you take the bag, and I usually flip them inside out over a smaller bowl and tighten the screen, so I can scrape it all up. I’ll push down the screen a tiny little bit into the bowl, and then I will spray. It will create a pool and I’ll scoop it up with a spoon and put it in the pressing screen. The most important trick is to dry it properly. It needs to be dabbed gently with the pressing screen - which really isn’t a good name. I’m going to start calling it the dabbing screen, because I don’t want people pressing the resin wet. It is the worst thing to do because the heads tend to breach. They’re popping and they’re mixing with the moisture and the oil’s trapping the water molecules and not allowing it to release and when

Make your own bubble hash in 5 easy steps! With bubble bags, ice and a bucket anyone can make their own high quality hash at home. Use trim, or buds are even better! 1. Set up your filter bags and/or machine as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Half fill with water and add enough ice to get the water temperature below 4oC. Top up if needed. 2. Mix it. The icy temperature makes trichomes brittle, and agitating the mixture separates them from the plant matter. 3. Settle. Drain the machine or bags and pull out the filter bags one by one. 4. Remove. Turn each bag inside out and remove the resin 5. Dab it to remove excess water. Dry thoroughly... and enjoy! Bubbleman’s top 2 tips: follow manufacturer’s instructions, and don’t overmix it!

Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S



Bubbleman says ice hash is best enjoyed with a Bee-Line wick, made from beeswax-dipped hemp twine that happens the hash never dries properly. It‘s weird and sticky. Gently dab water out with the pressing screen with a towel on either side so you can get it into a paddy that you can scoop up onto cardboard and chop real thin and spread over the cardboard. The cardboard acts as a desiccant. Which of the screens produce the best bubble hash? It’s hard to say, I hear a lot of people say 45, most people say 90 and 73, I like the 90 first almost exclusively. It tends to be the meltiest, it tends to be the strongest, it tends to be the tastiest. I don’t know if it is just the mid grade generalized head for the majority of strains that were growing in North America and Holland. I know that in places like New Zealand and Australia people really appreciate the 25 and 45 microns for the outdoor sativas that have just been blazed in the sun. The trichomes are not huge monsters, they are real tiny pinheads that are wicked strong and unique profiles and they get trapped in the smaller bags more often than not. It is a generalisation, doesn’t mean you wont find an indica that has super tiny heads and maybe you will find a sativa that has big ones but in general people from Australia and New Zealand have told me when they run their outdoor plants, that they get really nice in the 25 and 45 and that doesn’t surprise me at all. What are the hallmarks of great hash? It is hard because there is full


N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

melt out there, people do make butane oil and mix it with dry sift and lower quality hashes and make these really good looking hashes that can fool even the best. But the perceived high is too intense and it is not a positive vibe in the end. A lot of people enjoy smoking butane extractions but it is not worth the dangers of the ethyl mercaptan and the sulphides they put in the butane. By law butane is an odorless gas. They need to put smell into it so they add this ethyl mercaptan and it is oil soluble and it ends up in the oil. It is accumulative in the body and effects the central nervous system. People say they do a purge but when something when something is oil soluble and it bonds in a molecular level I highly doubt you are getting that out. Truly great hash for me is hash that melts. Right off the bat. If I can hold the lighter up to it and it starts bubbling and melting and creating these clear domes, that is an exceptional quality of hash. If it is a nice light colour golden or blondish and when you hold a lighter to it goes yellow or amber really quick and melts, that is a pretty good sign. If it has been pressed, it should be hard. It shouldn’t be too, too soft. A too, too soft hash, like this hash here we’re smoking from the Dampkring, it‘s got a little bit of moisture. It should be hard. But still, I wouldn’t kick it out of bed for eating crackers! It’s pretty nice hash. Ideally if you have done it right and you haven’t pressed it, it should be

bone dry powder that you would be worried it would blow right off the table if you sneezed. But often bubble won’t, it just sticks. Why did you get into macro photography? Macro photography has opened up a world of doors for me, just in terms of the message I’m trying to get out to people about seeking an unadulterated high. Pictures are worth a thousand words. When I show them a photo of melting hash on the screen or trichomes with big bulbous heads or smaller heads you can just see it. It is teaching us. Being able to see, to get down at those smaller levels, is something we are all interested in, to know what is going on. I use a Canon 40D but I have just ordered the 5D Mk2 which is supposed to be exceptional. I’m shooting with a specialised macro Canon lens called the MPE, it is 65mm and I shoot with the 24EXMT dual flash and that’s also from Canon. You need the dual flash with the macro lens or it is just not happening. I’ve looked throughout the plant and photographed at different weeks. Trichome development starts pretty early and they grow pretty fast. There’s always all sizes. You’ll never find a plant with one size trichome. All the variety, and they’re always at different maturity states, never all clear or all amber. I find amber is directly related to the death of the leaf or the plant matter. As it starts to decay the resin itself starts to decay. Maybe the cell membrane is breached and oxygen starts to get to it. So macro photography is good for knowing what is going on at a small level. Seeing how good your hash is. And what better way?


big thanks to Bubbleman for sharing his wisdom with readers of Norml News. Anyone who wants to know more should check out www. where there are forums on dry sift, import hash and bubble hash, plus heaps of macro photos and photo essays on using the bags, the machine, and do it yourself methods. fresh ice hash snaked around a joint courtesy wax @ soma



Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S



Hydro basics By Indoor Herb


ydroponic gardens can produce larger plants faster than soil based mediums. This article aims to dispel some of the myths surrounding hydroponic gardening. I’m sure every gardener imagines a faster growing, more productive garden but unfortunately fears of reduced output or complete failure make many growers avoid experimenting. Hydroponic gardening was originally used by the ancient Aztecs and Babylonians. They did not enrich their water with mineral salts like we do today, but otherwise the principal remains the same. Plants grow faster in water because water is able to provide more available oxygen to the root system; more

oxygen means faster growing roots; faster growing roots lead to a faster growing plant. None of this is news, but unfortunately the perception is that while hydroponically grown plants will grow much faster, they also suffer from pest, disease and nutrient deficiency faster, therefore the potential for low yield or even total failure is increased. This is not the case. In my experience plants grown hydroponically are healthier and stronger than soil grown plants, and the plant’s ability to withstand attack from pest or disease

MissHobs is much greater. A stronger plant will recover from insect infestation and the methods used to control insects much faster, and a fast recovery is vital to maintaining prolific growth. Of all plant problems, nutrient deficiencies are probably the most common and the hardest to diagnose. Figuring out what is causing the symptoms can be a hit and miss operation. The cure all for nutrient imbalance is the same: flush the medium (1/4 strength nutrient solution). I reckon it’s much easier to flush hydroponically grown plants using the nutrient solution and water pump: simply replace the nutrient solution, flush the plants, then replace the nutrient solution again. Hydroponic gardening can be extremely rewarding but they key is regular and accurate measuring of the nutrient solution. For this reason there are a couple of vital pieces of equipment no hydroponic gardener can afford to be without. pH Every gardener should be familiar with pH, whether growing in soil or hydroponically. If you are not checking the pH of the water and/or water/food (nutrient solution) then you should be. pH tape or a pH meter are vital for maintaining a productive healthy pHbalanced garden. pH effects the plant’s ability to take nutrients from the solution. If it is too acid they nutrients are locked out, and too alkaline is the same thing “locked out”. The ideal pH should be at or about 6, as slightly lower is preferable to slightly higher. CF CF stands for conductivity factor and this is how we measure of the


N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S




Green Gold from Bman

The Bush Doc answers your burning grow questions. Could you explain what MH and HPS mean? I know they are different lamps but not what they do. I am using only HPS lamps, am I missing something by not using both? Great questions, basically MH stands for Metal Halide, a type of lamp that emits light dominant in the blue end of the light spectrum. HPS stands for High Pressure Sodium and these lamps emit light in the red part of the spectrum. How this effects growth is simple. The colour emitted by MH lamps closely resembles the colour light in nature provided in late spring/early summer. This colour of light encourages fast compact, vegetative growth, which suits indoor growers as this helps to maximise the use of available growing area. HPS lamps produce a more red colour light, mimicking the late summer light when the sun is much lower on the horizon, meaning the light has further to travel causing it to shift into the red spectrum. This colour of light will encourage flowering plants to mature as their natural life cycle nears its end. Are you missing out? The short answer yes. It is possible to have the best of both worlds - any good grow shop will be able to sell you a MH retro fit lamp that emits light in the blue spectrum which can be fitted to your current HPS control gear (ballast and lamp holder). Use the MH lamp for vegetative growth, when you wish to change the light cycle and induce flowering swap back to the HPS lamp. Happy growing. Got a grow question? Email the Bush Doctor at and we’ll do our best to answer in upcoming issues.


N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

level of available nutrient salts (plant food) present in the nutrient solution. A CF truncheon will provide simple, easy operation for many years and is essential equipment for any hydroponic garden. Ideally the nutrient solution should be monitored and adjusted on an as needed basis, no less than every 3-4 days. For vegetative plants the CF level should be approximately 18. During flowering CF levels should increased to about 24CF. Every plant type has different needs so these levels should be used as a general guide and feeding should be adjusted to suit. Adjusting pH and CF is not difficult, and because you control the nutrient solution directly, problems related to pH and CF can be quickly diagnosed and controlled. The key to avoiding potential problems related to pH and/or CF is regular use of properly maintained measuring equipment. Pests Pythium or waterborne pathogens are the greatest threat to hydroponic gardens as water is re-circulated meaning possible mass infection. This is less a threat in soil based mediums as the medium acts as a natural barrier. The key to avoiding pythium-related problems is regular maintenance of growing equipment as well as regular water treatment. All growing equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised as often as possible. Hydrogen

Thermal imaging Shit! I’m growing in Christchurch and the papers just said they’re going to do thermal imaging on everyone’s house and pass ‘suspicious’ addresses onto the cops! - Sandra, Chch. Sounds pretty dodgy all right, but there are steps you can take to make your home safe from invasion by the constabulary. You could shift your grow to the basement, or better insulate your grow area. 6” polystyrene slabs work well and can be easily cut to fit any set up. You may have to run the exhaust air through something to cool it.

The Christchurch City Council say the purpose is so they can offer energy efficiency advice to people with badly insulated homes, but they said they would share the data with police if they were asked. However infra-red differences between houses can be caused simply by having a hot water tank in the attic, having worse insulation than your neighbours, having warm ceramic roof tiles from a day’s sunshine, having a heat pump, or any number of other reasons. This is why cops in the USA cannot get warrants based on thermal imaging. It should be challenged in court by anyone unfortunate enough to be busted.


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.

Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S



Sativaction outdoor organic sativa peroxide solutions should be used to clean all growing equipment when not in use. Water care Water care is vital to maintaining a healthy garden. All water added to your system should be treated for pathogens before use. Together with regular cleaning, regular use of water treatment chemicals will ensure any issues are dealt with before they become a problem. Ask at your local grow store about water treatment options. Of course, like with any plant additives, make sure you follow instructions and observe withholding


N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

Devil’s Lettuce periods and properly flush your plants in the week or two before harvest. Regular maintenance and cleaning mean that should any insect problems occur they can be dealt with quickly. The ability to treat the nutrient water - and via that water all the plants - means insect and disease control can be applied quickly and to all plants at once, for minimum disruption of growing time. By creating a precisely controlled growing environment hydroponic gardening has the potential for huge increases in production. Hydroponic gardening is currently the most efficient method of ensuring maximum possible growth. After the hydroponic garden comes the rest of the growing area, but that’s another article.

The Hog and Somango

Harm Reduction



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

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

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

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

Set and Setting. The responsible cannabis user will carefully consider his/her mindset and physical setting, and regulate use accordingly. Resist Abuse. Use of cannabis, to the extent that it impairs health, personal development or achievement, is abuse, to be resisted by responsible cannabis users. Respect the Rights of Others. Responsible cannabis users do not violate the rights of others, obser ve accepted standards of courtesy, and respect the preferences of those who wish to avoid cannabis.


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.

Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S



Not Guilty pleas beat charges & put pressure on controversial law by Julian Crawford


eing busted for cannabis is an ordeal no one should have to endure. If you do get caught, stay calm. It’s not the end of the world. There are many steps you can take to minimise the chance of an adverse outcome. You may even be able to use your case to challenge the legitimacy of the cannabis laws. Retired Canadian Judge, Jerry Paradis, who toured New Zealand last year, said that it is worth putting pressure Julian Crawford on Judges over this controversial law. In a number of recent cases, cannabis activists have taken Judge Jerry’s advice and successfully made use of Norml’s Roaring Lion and Stubborn Mule tactics. Otago Norml leader Abe Gray was arrested last year at an Otago University market day. He entered a not guilty plea and had a utensils charge dropped by requesting a jury. After a number of months, Abe changed his plea to guilty and made

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

MORE INFORMATION 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: Legal Aid www.lsa.govt. nz ph 0800 600 090 Precedent cases & court procedure Prisons, visiting hours etc www. 46

N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

an application for discharge Judges know without conviction. Police opposed discharge, but the the cannabis judge granted it because laws have the defendant was able to demonstrate the adverse dubious effects a conviction would justification have on h is employ ment prospects. In this case, Abe at best. believes that he was privy to a more lenient level of justice because he was able to afford expensive lawyers. However, it is possible to win in court without spending a cent on legal fees. Recently, cannabis activist Paul McMullan did just that, represented himself on a charge of cultivation of cannabis. Self representation is an empowering option when going through court and is not as difficult as it sounds. You act as your own lawyer, have the opportunity to challenge jury members and cross-examine police and other witnesses. You are also free to criticise the cannabis laws in ways that lawyers cannot. Police visited Paul’s house in 2008 and noticed a cannabis plant growing near the kitchen window. Paul did not admit guilt or make any incriminating statements. Knowing that he was indirectly speaking to a judge, Paul responded to police questioning with comments like: “This law is f**king bullshit, I’m not pleading guilty to this bullshit law!” and, “God gave man all seed bearing plants.” These statements were later read out in court. After Paul elected a jury trial the police prosecutor downgraded the charge from cultivation to possession of cannabis. Paul pressed ahead with a judge-only hearing, which was expected to last less than an hour. Instead lengthy cross examination of police witnesses by the accused dragged the case out into the afternoon session. Paul did not take the

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legal news

The National-led Government has wasted no time implementing draconian new laws. Police can now take a DNA sample from anyone ‘suspected’ of an offence. All frontline police will be armed with Taser stun guns. If you’re in Wanganui, you can’t wear certain clothing. Convicted pot smokers, like other offenders, will now be levied $50 in court, the money supposedly going to their ‘victims’. Parliament is considering ACT’s 3-strikes bill, which would see mandatory minimum sentences imposed for serious crimes. Pot is not on the list - yet. The Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Bill is now law, meaning police can apply in secret to seize peolple’s assets, with no charges laid or convictions needed. The burdon of proof is on the accused to prove where all their property came from.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS E Tu! Kia Kaha! LEAP’s Jerry Paradis at the Dunedin courthouse witness stand and neither confirmed nor denied that the plant was his. While the Judge described Paul’s address as a “hotbed of cannabis promotion”, the fact that the plant was in a common area of the house meant that it could have belonged to other members of the cannabis movement who frequent the address. Thus the burden of proof required to prove possession was not met and the charges were dropped. In 2008 I was charged with possession of 50g of cannabis, 1g of hashish and utensils. I had the utensils charge dropped when I asked for a jury. Then just before the final hearing, I got my lawyer to ask the police prosecutor if he would drop the hashish charge in return for a guilty plea on the possession of ca n nabis cha rge. T he prosecutor accepted the plea-bargain and I was sentenced to 125 hours community I’m not work. Alarmingly a case appeared pleading in the paper soon after with almost identical charges. The defendant guilty made an early guilty plea and was to this sentenced to 6 months jail. I n a ll these exa mples the bullshit defendants benefited by pleading not law! guilty and asking for a jury. By forcing a long, drawn-out case, more work was involved for police and prosecutors to obtain a conviction. Prosecutors know that a jury is far more likely to sympathise with the views of a cannabis user than a judge. The right of a jury to acquit the accused, even when they have broken the law, is enshrined in the Magna Carta. However, the Key government are trying to erode justice by removing the right to trial by jury for many offences. It is a myth that judges are more lenient on people who make an early guilty plea. Unless you are offered diversion, do not be pressured into making life easy for the court and police. An early guilty plea reduces your options and leaves your fate up to a judge, who could throw you in jail without examining the facts of the case thoroughly. It is wise to consult a duty solicitor but don’t let them pressure you into admitting guilt. You can enter no plea initially, to give yourself time to consider your options. Even if you have broken the law you have every right to plead not guilty. Judges know that a tide of opinion has been calling for cannabis law reform over many decades. They must also know that the cannabis laws have dubious justification at best. If you make an early guilty plea you are showing your acceptance for a dubious and unjust law. However if you exercise your rights and defend your charges, you are challenging the legitimacy of the law, demonstrating knowledge of the issue and improving your chances of a good outcome. This makes it harder for the court to dismiss you as a worthless criminal.

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For more information visit

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; Talk to YouthLaw, your 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

Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S


Activist Corner

You can help

Legalise cannabisp.!

The Jawa Returns


reetings Cannafolk of Aotearoa! The Jawa has been observing developments in the herby struggles: there is cause for both celebration and concern.

Sensing that their dark, irrational empire is beginning to crumble before the reason of repeal, prohibitionists are digging trenches on all fronts. Their mantra is “protect the children”, yet their terrible policy actually renders our young ones more vulnerable. Prohibition culture exposes youth to gang activity and other drugs, and for unlucky scapegoats the machinery of the (in)justice system is wheeled out, equipped only with the tools of capture and punishment. If the aim of drug policy is to protect health, then criminalisation is a weirdly aggressive method. The prohibitionist’s political leaders, who now hold the reins of power, have moved swiftly to maul our civil rights with some vicious new legislation. It seems the Spooks of Babylon are ratcheting up their sinister powers to silence dissenting voices in our society where ever possible. And when the authoritarians start kicking the little people, it is us Herby folk who often bear the brunt. But look out! There is also a groundswell of grassroots support for repeal as many hearty activists fight back in different ways. Dakta Green and the League of Daktas are burning a bright flame of defiance at the Daktory in West Auckland, where any toker can stop in and blaze up. The 4.20 herbalists of Dunsterdam have stayed strong despite many confrontations with their oppressors. Meanwhile in both healthcare and legal institutions the realisation is slowly taking hold among professionals that drug prohibition is a sinking ship. So even as Babylon grabs for more power over our lives, the people movement toward freedom is strengthening. We must all find our voices as repeal activists. We all have our powers, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Lend yours to the struggle to free our culture from oppression.


N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009

you can hel There are heaps of ways to Here are some easy ways get started. > 10 MINUTES

Email your MP with your view s. The format is firstname.lastname@parliament or see www. Buy a copy of NORML News from your local magazine store or stationers. Buying NO RML News is an easy and effective way of supporting our law reform efforts. Donate online to our ASB ban k account: 12-3057-0594667-00 Join NORML on the opposite page. 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

LESS > 1 HOUReOR an learn how to hold your own in

Raise your voic z/topic8.html argument at morning Visit your MP on any Saturday ’s review of the sion Take part in the Law Commis ww see Misuse of Drugs Act r doctor and get their Medical users - talk with you support. your town or Distribute Norml News around networks. - browse over Get informed at www.norml.or online members. 75,000 posts from our 7000


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


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Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S

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CROP OF 2009: left: A South African strain grown near Ngaruawhahia. Above: northern lights by Danny. Below right & centre: “this is my mate’s dual 400w set up with electronic ballast and adjustawings shade grown in a S-quad. He even blasts the water with ozone to sterilise it, and got 32 ounces off this one plant!” Left: purple masterkush, golden bay

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H e wi Co mp th m Wo Am m s is rks te r D e v i s io c r r d a ue ew n ew m ’ in & s d , t ’s T Se m ru he H S p t or g l L em e.. aw aw eed s 50 N ObReM L . N e W S Winter 2009 r!



everyone who has sent in photos - keep ‘em coming! email high resolution digi pics to or post PHOTOS OR a CD to NORML News, PO Box 3307 Auckland.

Winter 2009 N O R M L N e W S



N O R M L N e W S Winter 2009