Marijuana Media: Cook Islands set to overtake NZ; Inside The Weed Man’s legal grow; Labour’s ‘Papers and a Lighter’ Budget & More


Kia ora! A huge stash of ganja news to stuff in your pipe this week on Marijuana Media on 95bFM, with hosts Chris Fowlie from The Hempstore joining Jonny and Corey on bFM Drive.

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Radio NZ: Medicinal cannabis could be available in Cook Islands next month

Leading the marijuana news this week, Cook Island leaders say medicinal cannabis products could be available to some people in the Cook Islands as early as June and will “definitely” be available by the end of the year.

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Radio New Zealand reported yesterday that the country’s secretary of health, Bob Williams, said changes needed to be made to existing legislation, but in the meantime, the Ministry of Health would tell its pharmacy board to licence pharmacies to import cannabis products for patients. His rather optimistic assessment is that process “shouldn’t be any time longer than after June”.

The Pacific Island nation (in free association with New Zealand) held a referendum last August in which sixty-two percent of respondents said yes to: “Should we review our cannabis laws to allow for research and medicinal use?”

At the time Prime Minister Mark Brown promised quick action, but then formed a committee. Medicinal cannabis campaigner Steve Boggs said progress had been too slow and urged a “stop-gap” measure to allow designated growers to cultivate cannabis while the law was being changed. Cook Island officials are visiting New Zealand next month to learn what has worked for us, and what hasn’t.

1News: Locally grown cannabis flower signed off by officials

As reported on Marijuana Media last week, TVNZ’s 1 News reported on Sunday, five years after passage of the medicinal cannabis law and three years after the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme came into effect, the Medicinal Cannabis Agency has verified the first medicinal cannabis flower grown in New Zealand, ten grams of 25% THC bud produced by the Canterbury-based company Kalyx.

Not only did they have to meet the world’s toughest standards, but the dried flower is also sent to Australia to be packed to the required GMP standard, then re-imported back into Auckland by the distributor NUBU.

According to the report, NUBU chief executive Mark Dye is “ecstatic” and “couldn’t be happier”. They also talked to patient advocate Pearl Schomburg who said “[It’s] marvellous news, it’s literally what I’ve been waiting for.’

1News took cameras inside the facility and talked to the main man, Jesse O’Steen. Check out the video here.

The Spinoff: He’s definitely ‘The Weed Man’ – but you probably shouldn’t call him that

Then on Monday, The Spinoff also paid a visit to Jesse O’Steen’s secretive – and legal – weed farm in North Canterbury. Senior Writer Chris Schultz, “dressed like a bogan surgeon”, reports:

…multiple rooms full of seedlings, cuttings, mother plants, towering green leaves growing under blinding 2000-watt halogen bulbs with air conditioning and fans humming loudly. One room in complete darkness is full of plants near the end of the flowering process, the sweet, hoppy smell of marijuana indicating they’re nearly ready to be picked. “Killing them is my favourite time,” says O’Steen.

The Spinoff said Kalyx’s New Zealand-grown Kikuya Peak bud will be available to patients for the first time from this week. I’ve got my appointment booked to see the doctor, have you? Check out The Hemp Store’s guide for how to access medicinal cannabis in New Zealand from your doctor or a specialist clinic.

Kiwi companies up for cannabis awards

Congratulations to the Kiwi finalists in the inaugural Cannabiz Australia New Zealand Industry Awards, announced this week. South Island growers Puro NZ are finalists in six categories with Helius Therapeutics finalists in four. They’re both in the Environmental, Social and Governance Award and the Award for Industry Collaboration for their work together.

Medleaf is the only NZ company to have a Dried flower product shortlisted to win the “Best market entry” category Medleaf said “It’s still Just 2 of us aiming to deliver the best value possible to Kiwis without the “Big Pharma” style business influences.” They say they can’t name the product or “the law means the Ministry would have us for breakfast!”

The Cannabiz Awards are self-nominated then whittled down by a pool of 36 judges drawn from politics, healthcare, research, consultancy and business. The presentation ceremony and gala dinner takes place at Melbourne’s Showtime Events Centre on June 8 – tickets here if you’re keen on a cannabis gala junket.

Bad neighbours: Singapore hangs 2nd citizen in 3 weeks for cannabis offence

Don’t travel via Singapore. I’m calling for a boycott of our bad neighbours. Don’t go there, and don’t buy their stuff. AP/1News reports:

Singapore on Wednesday hanged another citizen for trafficking cannabis, the second in three weeks, as it clung firmly to the death penalty despite growing calls for the city-state to halt drug-related executions. …

Apart from Singapore, Amnesty International said Indonesia carried out 112 drug-related executions last year by firing squad after a hiatus since 2016. In contrast, neighboring Thailand has legalized cannabis while Malaysia has ended the mandatory death penalty for serious crimes.

Stuff: There’s more to ‘the marijuana capital of Australia’ than hippies

Stuff’s travel section reported Nimbin, 75 kilometres west of Byron and up the road from Lismore, “really takes the hash brownie”, and for that we can thank the Aquarius Festival, held over 10 days in May 1973.

The hippies came to town and never left. The former dairy town and now canna-capital of Australasia is all-weed 24/7 and takes it up a notch every May for their Mardi Grass festival. The entire town is like a Grateful Dead hallucination.

For three decades it has staged Mardi Grass on the first May weekend, where 5000 like-minded locals and visitors hail the herb in a mind-boggling variety of ways culminating with a parade led by the green-garbed Ganga Faeries.

This year the town will be on steroids as Aquarius 50, a golden anniversary celebration honouring the original event, kicked off on May 10 just after Mardi Grass.

I was last there five years ago. Since then, the Nimbin-headquartered Legalise Cannabis Party has managed to get members elected in the NSW, WA, and Victoria Upper Houses. I’ve got huge respect for what Michael Balderstone and the team have achieved and love following their progress.

Labour’s ‘papers and a lighter’ Budget

The budget failed to have anything significant for drug law reform or harm reduction, such as funding substance testing for cannabis, retraining police, or plants to gather tax revenue from the multibillion-dollar market.

But the Budget did contain plans to wipe the $5 prescription fee. That means your legally prescribed medicinal cannabis just got $5 cheaper – enough for a pack of papers and a lighter!

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party also lambasted the Budget as a missed opportunity. According to recent research performed by the Australian Parliamentary Budget Office for the Aussie Greens, legalisation there 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.

Extrapolating those numbers to NZ could see $5 billion in additional tax revenue, increasing benefits by $85/week and funding an extra 17,000 Kaianga Ora homes every year (enough to wipe the waiting list in under two years)

If that’s the sort of thing you’d like to see, make sure you vote accordingly in this year’s election, and let candidates from all parties know that fixing our cannabis laws is important to you.

Coming up


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. Looks like the Cook Island’s are more Progressive than the old stiff upper lipped Victorian New Zealand.

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