Marijuana Media on 95bfm: Roadside drug testing could begin next week – but won’t


Kia ora! Driver drug testing won’t begin next week, Dunedin hosts a pot-a-loo party, native psychedelics – all 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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Roadside drug testing could begin next week – but won’t

A law allowing new random roadside drug testing takes effect next week, but on the show this week I predicted Police would not be ready to enforce it.

The Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment legislation was passed in March 2022, allowing officers to perform random roadside tests of drivers. Those who fail will (at a minimum) be fined, given demerit points, and barred from driving for 12 hours. The new law takes effect from Saturday 11 March, however I think it’s unlikely police intend to conduct a crackdown – or that they can.

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For a start, the new regime makes oral swabs (saliva tests) the first step. These are supposed to be calibrated to measure impairment, not just detect use. My favourite Bay of Plenty website Sunlive reported this week that Police have “identified technological constraints” with the available devices in meeting the requirements of the Act. That could mean innocent drivers fail and impaired drivers pass (this was forewarned by NORML, and others, in submissions on the Bill).

In Australia this has led to many unjust cases in the courts and a huge waste of police time prosecuting innocent people, including those who have prescriptions for medical cannabis. The device used there, the Dräger DrugTest 5000, is accurate only 80% of the time, so one-in-five fails are errors.

The New Zealand law appeared to recognise the devices are unreliable and inaccurate by specifying drivers would need to perform two saliva tests and fail both.

NZ Police also need to train their officers to perform the tests to an evidential standard. That hasn’t happened yet. There must also be a public education campaign – the carrot to the Police’s stick – proceeding any enforcement.

Finally, I suspect there is little enthusiasm for enforcing this new law, which was introduced in 2020 on the expectation the cannabis referendum was about to legalise the use and sale of cannabis. Despite the headlines and claims from ESR that a third of all drivers killed on the road have drugs in their systems, correlation doesn’t mean causation.

Cannabis remains in the system for several weeks after last use, so it is detectable and shows up in Coronial inquiries, but the use of cannabis tends to make people more risk averse, drive slower, or just stay at home rather than going out. Jurisdictions which have legalised have not seen increases in road deaths.

Interestingly, after Marijuana Media aired on 95bfm at 4:20 last Thursday, One News put the question to Associate Transport Minister Kiri Allen on Thursday evening, who confirmed our prediction that the new regime would not be going ahead (Roadside drug testing postponed because saliva kits ‘don’t exist’).

Now, I’m not saying that One News listens to Marijuana Media and took the lead from our report, but ONE NEWS OBVIOUSLY LISTENS TO MARIJUANA MEDIA.

Officials told them Police will continue to use their compulsory impairment test (CIT), which involves officers judging driver’s ability to walk a straight line, balance on one leg, touch their nose with eyes closed, and estimate 30 seconds) with follow up blood tests.

In subsequent reporting One News said the move was praised by drug safety experts, who appreciate that the Government is taking time to revisit the policy to align with the accuracy standards they hoped for.

“The best thing to do now is for New Zealand to become a world leader in this space,” said Sarah Helm of the NZ Drug Foundation. “If New Zealand were to develop an impairment test that was suitable at a roadside, say on an app or something, it would be world-leading. It would also have really useful purposes in places like workplaces, where they are calling for better science.”

NORML has for many years criticised current approaches to measuring impairment and called for a technology-based solutions using apps such as DRUIDin our submissions on road safety. NORML has also developed Principles for the Responsible Use of Cannabis which includes no driving while impaired.

Otago Uni students turn shit box into hot box

In lighter news, feral Otago Uni students held a weed party inside a public toilet. Senior Sergeant Anthony Bond told the Otago Daily Times officers were called to the Exeloo outside Gardens New World due to complaints about noise from surrounding residents, around 2am last Friday (Corey knows these toilets well). Upon arrival the officers discovered 12 students aged 18-19 years old crammed into the toilet, smoking weed and listening to music on a portable speaker. The public pot-a-loo pot party was shut down and the partygoers were referred to the proctor.

Travel section: Phuket goes to pot

Stuck deciding where to spend your ill gotten gains, or minimum wage? Go where the weed is, advises the NZ Herald travel section. In Thailand that’s Phuket. Samui doesn’t have any dispensaries yet but I have no doubt they are coming. Thanks, grannie Herald, for the tip.

Plants saved at flood-hit canna-business

Flood-hit factories in TaIrawhiti and Hawkes Bay are vowing to rebuild after Cyclone Gabrielle left many extensively damaged, according to Stuff. Among them is pioneering medicinal cannabis firm Rua Biosciences, based in Ruatoria.

Interim managing director Anna Stove said their sites were not damaged but a skeleton crew had to intervene to save plants grown for research and development trials. “Left unattended, the weather conditions could have had a major impact on our outdoor crop.” Rua’s indoor plants were saved with power provided by a back-up generator.

Hopefully our illicit growers who provide cannabis for adult and medicinal users had the same back up plans in place and were able to take care of their outdoor crops and arrange for back up power for indoor crops.

Research on the use of native pyschedelics

Radio NZ reported this week about plans for a clinical trial this year into the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics. The project based at Rangiwaho Marae South of Gisborne, coordinated by Rua Biosciences co-founder Manu Caddie, involves the cultivation and use of Weraroa. This is an indigenous fungi containing psilocybin, the active ingredient in ‘magic mushrooms’, a Class A drug. They believe it might be useful in breaking methamphetamine addiction.

Meanwhile an indigenous species of liverwort, Radula complanate, was also used in traditional Māori medicine (rongoā). The main bioactive compound is a cannabinoid known as perrottetinene, which is similar to THC with anti-inflammatory properties.

Hempstore news

Big thanks to the NZ Drug Foundation for running a substance checking clinic at the shop this week. This is a free, legal and confidential service to help people stay safe by making better informed decisions. We host them on the first Thursday of every month, as part of #FirstThursday on Karangahape Road. The next one is 6 April or find your nearest clinic at We gave away a Dancesafe Reagent kit to a lucky listener on the show (The Hempstore supplies Dancesafe reagent kits to all three of NZ’s licensed providers to use as their first step). Also coming up, The Hempstore is proud to sponsor J Day in Albert Park on Saturday 6 May. It’s free and runs High Noon to 4:20pm. Spot you there!

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. In a statement provided to Newshub, Associate Transport Minister Kiri Allan said Police advised they were unable to find the technology capable of providing saliva roadside testing.

    “The tech doesn’t exist in the world, and Police did advise the select committee of this from the start, so it’s not Police’s fault,” Police Association President Chris Cahill said.

    While National Party Transport Spokesperson Simeon Brown said it was a failure by the Government.

    “This is an absolute failure, it passed legislation, and the Government gave officials a whole year to get this sorted,” Brown said.

    The government did pass the law, but… It ain’t gonna happen.

    • Technology exists, but it’s either legally unreliable or too sensitive, & doesn’t really measure impairment.

  2. Another mess up by this government of no hope no do to add to the list of other failures. How can anyone expect the majority to vote them back in to power

    • The other side of the coin, they followed an evidence based process showing fairness and balance.
      Requiring actual impairment measures rather than presence of cannabis is a big step forward.
      It would balance it against testing for alcohol. Imagine the uproar if alcohol testing was just for presence.
      Now I wish they would deal with the urine testing method which is the same deal, its testing for presence rather than impairment.

    • The problem with the mouth swab test and the urine test is they detect a cannabinoid that is produced by the body rather than the cannabinoids that actually caused the impairment.

  3. Don’t worry, the Police don’t have time for this, unless they want to of course, you know, for “reasons”

  4. Family-Thirst and the church of Science-Labotomolgy claim that if dogs have access to legal pot in our country that 10,000 or more hands could get bitten off each year ,,, safe pets become like Mexican Dingo’s ,,, it’s no joke and they have the evidence

    ,,,, the cats would be even worse 😉

    Only good stoner songs work to chill them out ,,,
    Where its peaceful – Original Song by n8v child

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