Marijuana Media: Drug users endangered in Auckland’s emergency response


Kia ora from a very wet and soggy Tāmaki Makaurau! We’ve got a new health minister and who knew it was EZ to smoke up your crops within the chimney? All of this and more on Marijuana Media on 95bFM, with your hosts Jonny from bFM Drive and Chris Fowlie from The Hempstore.

Or listen on 95bfm here (opens new window so you can keep reading The Daily Blog)

Drug users endangered in Auckland’s emergency response  

First up, our hearts go out to everyone affected by the floods and severe weather in Auckland, Northland and the Waikato over the last week. The stories of community resilience and people helping each other have been incredible, offset by heart wrenching losses for some and a widespread sense of abandonment in the initial emergency response.

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There has been no recognition of the issues facing drug users in civil defence emergencies, when regular supplies can be interrupted and regular places of consumption no longer available. Both increase risks of experiencing harm.

For cannabis users the floods came in the middle of the outdoor growing season. Cannabis plants, including medical crops for patients in need, may have been toppled, broken or swept away. Floodwaters would have contaminated any plants they washed over, potentially with faeces or industrial waste. Any such plants must be disposed of, and not consumed.

People growing their medicine indoors have other issues. Power cuts interrupt light cycles and that can cause a flowering female plant to go hermaphrodite and self-seed. Mothers and seedlings would be less affected but could also go weird.

For people using other drugs, they may be forced to use uncertain suppliers, or be stuck in emergency housing. IV users may not have access to sterile water.

Drug users should not be forgotten in our emergency response. If anything, it adds to calls for drug law reform. Let patients and those who care for them grow their own supplies, and codify the police discretion for drugs to ensure no one has any fear of arrest for use, consumption or self-provision.

UPDATE: The Level have now published an excellent guide to drug harm reduction in the Auckland floods – click here to read in full

Kia ora to our new Yes-voting Minister of Health

We called it last week – we have a new Minister of Health, Ayesha Verrall. Best known for banning tobacco for anyone born after 2008, it is my understanding the new Minister voted Yes in the 2020 cannabis referendum.

Hipkins’ cabinet reshuffle is good news for making progress on cannabis law reform. The former Minister of Health, Andrew Little, was closely associated with the Ardern administration, the 2020 cannabis referendum, and his self-imposed handbrake on any drug law reform.

In April 2021 Little extended the narrow loss in the referendum to ruling out decriminalising any drug use – which is the same position since taken by National leader Chris Luxon, who in October last year ruled out any drug law reform under his watch. So Little and Luxon took the same position on drug laws.

Kiri Allen, Little’s replacement as Minister of Justice, was another strong advocate for voting Yes in the cannabis referendum. The new Minister for Auckland, Michael Wood, is another Yes advocate. Stuart Nash, the new/old Minister of Police, is another.

Cook Islands may grow its own medicinal cannabis

The Cook Islands, part of the “realm” of New Zealand, last year held a referendum alongside their general election. Sixty-two percent of respondents voted “yes” to the question: “Should we review our cannabis laws to allow for research and medicinal use?”

A committee has now been formed to work out what to do now. Chair Tingika Elikana told Radio New Zealand they might change their laws to allow cannabis to be manufactured there.

“If the opportunity is cheaper for us to manufacture our own to treat those with ailments in the country, then we might have to go down that road and encourage people to get that opportunity,” Elikana said.

Allowing medical prescriptions and local manufacturing will, in turn, spur a review of wider cannabis laws.

“If we’re going to go down the road of manufacturing our own medicinal cannabis, then we might have to look at the issue of possession, because you don’t want to catch everybody who are legally entitled to possess because of being involved in the manufacturing of cannabis medicine in the Cook Islands.”

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown told Cook Islands News last week the country’s current laws around possession were “quite dated” and they would look to bring them in line with Australia and New Zealand.

“We’re looking at the legislation, and how it impacts on the recreational use of cannabis, which is severely restricted and harshly punished.”

Weekly worldwide weed wrap-up

Japan has confirmed it will allow medicinal cannabis, while criminalising use for the first time, while Hong Kong has announced CBD will be criminalised as a “dangerous drug”, putting it on the same level as heroin.

The big news though, is Australia’s new plan to legalise cannabis which could bring in billions of dollars in tax revenue. This is from The Greens who commissioned the Federal Budget Office to war game the revenue that could flow from cannabis legalisation, a path embraced by Canada, where marijuana can be bought by adults at government-run stores and licensed private retailers.

It would bring in A$28 billion in taxes and allow the government to increase the dole by AU$80 a week or build 88,000 social housing units.

“When you legalise cannabis you can properly regulate the market, provide consistent health and safety advice and make the product safer. Right now the only ‘safety regulators’ for the cannabis market are bikie gangs and organised crime and that doesn’t make much sense,” said Greens Senator David Shoebridge.

“The Greens’ model creates a right for adults to grow up to six plants at home without being taxed and without having to pay. This costing takes that into account. It also guarantees commercial possibilities for co-operatives and local entrepreneurs to grow and sell cannabis including through regulated cannabis cafes.”

On a lighter note: tenant (allegedly) burns stash, escapes conviction

A tenant raided by police who allegedly burnt piles of weed in the fireplace has escaped a conviction for cultivation and won’t have to pay for the damage police did to the house. Copious plumes of thick smoke were observed for six hours. He said it was chillies, and was medicating for the stress of being raided. The charges did not stick, although the Tenancy Tribunal ruled he must pay the lost rent and a $500 penalty for illegal activity.

What’s up at The Hempstore

We had free substance testing instore this week, courtesy our mates at the NZ Drug Foundation. It’s a free, legal and confidential service, and even more important after the floods that people can test what they have got, and any new unknown supplies. This is every month at The Hempstore, or see for the next clinic near you.

Marijuana Media airs every Thursday at 4:20pm on 95bFM, with your hosts bFM Drive’s Jonny and Chris Fowlie from The Hempstore. Stream or download the pot-cast for this show here or hundreds of previous Marijuana Media shows at (or via iTunes / RSS feed).



  1. White collar drugs: Here come get them tested, we want you to be safe.
    Blue Collar drugs: You lost the referendum so we have a mandate to keep punishing 49% of you.

    A shuffle of seats in parliament isnt going to fix all the corruption underneath, reports of lobbyists and donations in this political landscape dictate what direction politicians take. Its those bureaucrats in the background that are the problem too, politicians might shuffle seats around to make themselves more popular but its still those pen pushers underneath that create the legislation and rules.

    Shame about the timing of these floods up north, its something that would have to be looked at before growing again next year, having a plan B or grow on higher ground, tunnel houses ect. The climate is changing, we have a marine temp problem now which is going to continue this cycle, its either a matter of adapt or go under. This is going to be a bad year for the legal medicinal cannabis industry. Might see a few go under who knows.
    But at least the spread of green fairies around the country will continue to provide medicinal products to the 96% who need it.

  2. Legalising Pot would certainly benefit ice cream manufacturers.
    MDMA however. Now, there’s a drug to change the world for the better.
    WARNING! Unless you know your source you will probably be sold fake shit. Unless you have access to a testing kit, don’t take anything and fly to Portugal instead where the grown ups are.
    Watch this. Netflix: ” How to Change Your Mind. MDMA.
    All recreational drugs should be a medical health issue, if there’s in fact an issue at all. NOT a criminal justice issue.

  3. It took me stopping smoking weed very regularly myself to really appreciate how cringe and tedious 99% of pot heads really are. If you are going to call your weed “medicine” then the obvious question is “what illness are you afflicted with?” This is the chronic smokers who frame it this way, not the person who has a smoke a couple of times a year or similar. They justify their drug abuse, which is a coping mechanism, by calling it “medicine.” Some constituents of the cannabis plant are indeed beneficial in some contexts, but most people want legalisation simply so that they can more easily partake in recreational use and abuse as a form of escape from the demands of reality. They’ll rationalise their own self-harm.

    On balance, society is much better off without weed. For a start, people are more politically engaged rather than distracted and indifferent. If I had still been smoking when the referendum was held, I definitely would have voted for legalisation. However, because I’d given up by then, I voted against it, simply because I’d come to appreciate how much better off people are when they aren’t chronically stoned.

    • Voting no just allowed the alcohol industry market domination to continue. A drug that causes 3 times more harm to society.
      So what if people are using it recreationally, its a much safer alternative to alcohol.
      For chronic pain cannabis has no competition when it comes to effectiveness.
      Statistics say nearly half of NZ has some form of disability, many of those disabled have doctors prescribing them medicines that dont work or cause side effects that require other drugs, many cases I have heard of where they managed to dump every other medicine and go cannabis fulltime and sole use and their lives improved.
      Maybe its you who was using it as a coping mechanism and have over generalised your own situation to compare to how other people use cannabis

  4. I see long term weed smokers who to be charitable..are quite psychotic.Yes there are functioning potheads,but I’ve seen plentyof schizoid behaviour by weed users.
    All the same ..decriminalisation for small quantities is probably ..due.

    • I could see all those behaviors you say just by visiting the local bar on a Friday or Saturday night. People all sitting around killing off brain cells. The behavior tends to change towards acting violently or total loss of motor skills and then off the go, hop into their vehicles feeling bullet proof and cause accidents or death.
      Alcohol is 3 times more harmful than cannabis according to the Drug Harm Index created in the UK.
      Maybe you should focus your attention on more harmful substances before pointing fingers.

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