Marijuana Media on 95bFM: Mānawatia a Matariki, and our drug laws are still racist. Plus, Greens announce new cannabis policy


Mānawatia a Matariki, it’s Māori New Year and our drug laws are still racist. Plus, the Green Party has a new drug law reform policy that includes regulating cannabis.


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Is Police discretion for cannabis possession racist?  

On Newshub Nation this week, more evidence police discretion for drugs offences still isn’t working and Māori are impacted at an “alarming rate”.

New figures show that last year more than a thousand people were convicted for cannabis possession – 49 percent of them Māori.

One hundred and eighty people were sent to prison with a cannabis possession charge in 2022.

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While the overall number of people prosecuted for cannabis possession has been dropping, the proportion of Māori is on the rise.

For the first time, in 2022 the actual number of Māori convicted overtook Pākehā.

We need proper cannabis law reform, because the absence of reform means vulnerable and ‘stereotypical’ people continue to be subject to police harassment and prosecution – whether intentional or not.

The NZ Drug Foundation’s Sarah Helm, who I caught up with this week, was quoted saying “We’re getting it wrong for Māori in particular, we’re getting it wrong for everyone. If we try and do better for Māori, we will end up doing better for everyone, essentially.”

Chlöe Swarbrick said the discriminatory application of police discretion was a predictable outcome.

“if you are enabling discretion, you are potentially going to open the door to the human element of potential discrimination”.

She said “Many politicians, on the record, admit to using illicit substances back in the mists of time, but they now oversee laws which penalize, prosecute and ruin the lives of people who are doing exactly the same things that they once did.

“That is both the height of hypocrisy, but also the abdication of responsibility.”

Newsbub Nation put it to the Ministers in charge of this mess, but they just passed the buck:

Justice Minister Kiri Allan said responsibility for this law sits with the Health Minister.

Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said it was a matter for the Police Minister.

Police Minister Ginny Andersen said she couldn’t comment on operational matters.

Meanwhile, people like Mel and Garry – quoted in the story – are suffering. They found themselves on the wrong end of the law last September when police busted them for their medicinal cannabis grow.

“We’ve put our faces on national TV to expose what’s happening to small guys like us,” said Mel.

Watch the full video here or on Three Now.

Greens release new drug law reform policy – but questions remain over one candidate

As we officially enter the regulated election period with just three months to go, Stuff reports ‘5 policies you might not have expected from the Greens’ election manifesto’. But there’s one we all should know: the Greens are the strongest party in parliament to consistently advocate for drug law reform.

Others in Parliament might privately voice their support, but the Greens lead the debate.

Now, the Green Party’s newly released 2023 election manifesto includes an “evidence-based, compassionate approach to drug law reform”:

  • Repeal and replace the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 with an evidence-based approach, which reduces harm and treats drug use as a health issue;
  • Regulate the personal use of cannabis, with “tight restrictions on advertising and the location of retail outlets”;
  • Improve the framework for medicinal cannabis;
  • Create a new framework for trials of therapeutic uses of other controlled substances such as psychedelics.

You can read the full document here. It’s a bloody good drugs policy. The best of any party in parliament, so far.

But questions remain over new Green candidate Efeso Collins, now ranked at number 11 on the Greens’ party list and set to enter Parliament on current polling. Efeso was against cannabis, and NORML, when I knew him at Auckland university in the 90s. A quarter century later, and contrary to Green Party policy, Collins campaigned for ‘Say Nope to Dope’ during the 2020 cannabis referendum – although he said afterwards he would have supported decriminalisation.

The failed Auckland mayoral candidate now says he is on a “journey” and has apologised for his previous positions. To be fair, Efeso has a lot of good progressive policy positions, but given his previous campaigning against not only drug law reform but also marriage equality and reproductive rights, it is unclear how far along the journey he has come.

I’d like to see clear statements from the new Green candidate about where he is at now, what he supports and how he will work to enact the Green drug law reform policy. Otherwise, Collins is a turn off and I’d hate to go into this election wanting the Green vote to go down!

For the 49% who voted Yes in the cannabis referendum, the Legalise Cannabis Party is the clearest protest vote – and their Aussie equivalent has MPs in three Upper Houses. Te Pati Māori is also strongly supporting drug law reform, and – as one listener reminded us – TOP has a good drugs policy too. I’d love to see ACT back a drugs policy that aligns with their espoused principles of freedom and liberty. And credit to Labour – they made medical cannabis legal.

Bible-wielding man tells court he’s forgiven by God, cannabis not a crime

The Marborough Express reports a Marlborough man in court said God has forgiven him for the cannabis found at his property. Seemingly with nothing better to do, Police had charged the guy with ‘procuring’ cannabis, and further decided to waste the time of the Blenheim District Court by prosecuting this offensive charge.

Brendon Shane Phillips said he was “redeemed by the bible, Jesus of Nazareth”, and while the cannabis was his, “I do not believe there’s any crime in it”. Community Magistrate Sherida Cooper didn’t agree, convicting Phillips with a sentence of six months supervision by probation.

Auckland Corrections staff member caught smuggling cannabis into Mt Eden prison

Stuff reports a Corrections staff member has been charged after attempting to smuggle tobacco and cannabis into Mt Eden prison. You can bet this isn’t the only case. I’m told drugs are as easy to get inside as anywhere else.

It begs the question – if drugs can be (and are) smuggled into a prison, what’s the chances of prohibitionist drug laws successfully wiping cannabis from a free society?

Government research funding includes cannabis policy

Speaking of evaluating approaches: the Health Research Council (HRC) has announced government funding of $53.7 million for research into various health issues, including:

  • a project to improve the health and wellbeing outcomes of young Māori released from prison and youth justice residences;
  • the kava for PTSD project we recently discussed on the show;
  • ketamine for depression, and;
  • $1,187,932 to Chris Wilkins of Massey University for a 36-month project “translating, modelling and evaluating cannabis policy reform”. Perhaps he could start with a never-performed cost-benefit analysis of the current law vs legalisation.

International roll up:

California Addresses 90% of Cannabis Cases in Expungement Efforts (NORML)

Seven years after California voters passed Proposition 64 in 2016, successfully legalizing marijuana possession, cultivation, and sales, the courts are finally nearly finished relieving all qualifying cannabis cases. As of April 6, 2023, California courts have expunged, sealed, or resentenced 206,502 cases out of an estimated 227,650

NBA Removes Cannabis from Prohibited Substances List (NORML)

League officials and the NBA Players Association have signed a collective bargaining agreement that drops cannabis from its list of banned substances.

 Under the policy, NBA teams may refer players suspected of having marijuana-related dependency issues to the Medical Director for a mandatory evaluation, but league officials will no longer drug test players for past cannabis exposure.

Retail Cannabis Legalisation Correlated with Fewer Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents (NORML)

The legalization of the adult-use cannabis market is not associated with upticks in either serious or fatal motor vehicle accidents, according to data published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention. “Cannabis legalization led to fewer fatal, serious, and minor injury collisions,” the study’s author concluded.

The study’s conclusions are consistent with recently published data from Canada finding that the enactment of adult-use marijuana sales is not associated with any increase in motor vehicle injuries requiring hospitalization.




·       Last week was also 710 Day, or “hashish holiday”. Most people know about April 20 being 420 Day, but July 10 is for concentrates (710 upside down is “oil”).

·       Substance Testing coming up @ The Hemp Store, a new addition this coming Thursday 20 July (2-6pm), and then Thursday 2 August (3-7pm). Thanks to the NZ Drug Foundation. Reagent kits available here.

·       Auckland J Day will be on Saturday 2nd December in Albert Park (postponed from May), and NORML is organising cannabis rallies leading up to the election.


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). Thanks to The Hemp Store!



  1. Police are employed as a gang to enforce the law not create it. Also if hard drugs are ok in the White House then soft drugs should be legal everywhere.

  2. Chris once again thank you for a bloody good article.I appreciate the information you bring forth.
    It is going to be most interesting to see how the Greens and Efeso work their relationship together.
    When people get in power all sorts of things can play out.


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