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.
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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.
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 thelevel.org.nz 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 95bFM.com (or via iTunes / RSS feed).