Marijuana Media: Gangs supply the drugs we take; Aussie Greens plan to legalise cannabis


Kia ora! We find out what the chances are of you scoring weed from gangs in Tāmaki are and Australia seem to be out in front with getting Cannabis legalised. Plus a sweet roll-up of ganja-filled goodness this week on Marijuana Media on 95bFM, with hosts Khris and Corey from bFM Drive and Chris Fowlie from NORML – thanks to The Hempstore.


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Survey confirms gang ties to drug purchases

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The NZ Drug Trends survey has revealed just how much – and where – gangs and Organised Criminal Groups control and dominate the supply of drugs purchased in New Zealand.

The annual New Zealand Drugs Trends Survey (NZDTS) is carried out by the Drugs Research Team at Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University’s Shore & Whāriki Research Centre. The online survey, which ran from August 2022 and February 2023, was completed by 13,026 New Zealanders from around the country.

Stuff handily broke down where gangs supply the most drugs. Northland and Whanganui had the highest rate of purchasing cannabis from gangs, at 29 percent. Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay was on 25 percent and the Bay of Plenty 22 percent. Auckland had the lowest rate at 12%.

Overall, 17 per cent of cannabis purchases were reported to be from gang retailers such as tinny shops, according to coverage in the NZ Herald. This compared to 31 per cent of retail meth sales.

Drugs Research Team leader Associate Professor Chris Wilkins told the Gisborne Herald “Cannabis markets are traditionally known for their low social impact, generally involving private transactions among people who know each other.”

“In contrast, the sale of cannabis via gang-controlled ‘tinny’ houses increases the risk of victimisation and inter-gang violence, while also attracting adolescent buyers and increasing drug availability in vulnerable neighbourhoods.”

Northland district crime manager Dene Begbie told the Northern Advocate police used to employ a law-enforcement approach but “Now we are going for a more health-centred and therapeutic approach.”

Cops and busts


The best way to reduce the involvement of gangs would be to make cannabis legal, breaking the link between cannabis consumers and gang dealers, with social equity provisions assisting otherwise law-abiding providers and growers to go legit. The huge flows of money from people who consume drugs should not accrue in the pockets of millionaires or gangsters.

Meanwhile, as our weekly news is filled with record drug seizures, murders, kidnappings and generally shit behaviour caused by meth, gangs and booze, researchers at Otago University have proposed a new method of ranking drug harms.

Unlike the Police’s Drug Harm Index, it doesn’t chalk up ‘foregone tax revenue’ as a harm from cannabis – and it includes alcohol.

We’ve previously reported on the ranking, based on work by UK professor David Nutt, which found alcohol was the most harmful drug in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The authors now acknowledge controversy over some of their rankings, “particularly those for cocaine and illegal fentanyls”, which were ranked lower than cannabis.

But they also said: “For many drugs, current policy responses contributed to higher ratings on specific criteria, with one example being criminalisation due to drug possession and use. Therefore, for drugs such as cannabis, the higher harm scores are largely a function of current drug policy settings.”

And: “Our recommendation is that a review of Aotearoa New Zealand’s drug policy is needed, which considers a health-based approach to managing drug use and structural determinants of drug harm, including any negative effects of the current prohibition-based drug policy.”

Cannabis is an election issue – in Australia, and for at least 1 per cent of voters here

The latest 1News/Verian poll shows Labour slipping to its lowest result since 2017, but cannabis remains the top issue for at least 1 per cent of voters. That’s the number voting Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis, according to that poll.

Lest we forget, the 49% who voted Yes to a fully legal regulated and taxed cannabis market. An even higher proportion of Labour and Green voters want change.

It’s happening in Australia, with the Greens there making history by introducing the first bill in parliament to legalise cannabis nationally – following the election of Legalise Cannabis MPs into the upper houses of several states.

Greens Senator David Shoebridge has introduced The Greens Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023 to permit the adult recreational use of cannabis across the country.

“This is the first time a bill has been introduced to Federal Parliament that could, with the support of both houses, create a legal home grow and commercial cannabis market across the country.”

The Greens had previously sought public commentary on its cannabis bill, said a report in The Telegraph, receiving over 8,000 responses from across the country.

Several components of the bill were based on survey results, including labelling requirements on licensed cannabis products, safe storage, and online advertising.

“Using the collective wisdom of almost ten thousand respondents we know the Greens will be tabling the most popular and effective bill possible to legalise cannabis for the whole country,” Senator Shoebridge noted.

“It’s not enough to just decriminalise cannabis. The community is demanding a comprehensive plan for legislation … From what we’ve heard in this consultation, I believe this model – with the improvements people have asked for – provides the right plan to create a single, legal national cannabis market.”

The Daily Mail said his next step is to present the Bill to the Senate, bolstered by the responses they received, and an analysis they commissioned from the Australian Parliamentary Budget Office which showed the Greens’ plan 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 houses.

That’s how you pass a controversial law – or win a referendum. Yet despite 49% voting Yes, and medicinal cannabis available on prescription, The Spinoff pointed out: It’s 2023 and athletes are still getting banned for using weed (although some former All Blacks are now touting CBD for sports recovery).

So, what are our politicians going to do about it? Radio New Zealand has produced a guide to party policy but so far, the only mention of cannabis is from the Greens: “regulate personal use of cannabis”. Two related announcements this week:

German Cabinet approves law to make cannabis legal

According to a report from Reuters:

Germany’s cabinet passed a contentious bill on Wednesday to legalize recreational marijuana use and cultivation, one of the most liberal cannabis laws in Europe that could potentially provide further momentum for a similar worldwide trend.

The legislation, which still has to pass parliament, would allow adults to possess up to 25 grams (0.88 oz) of the drug, grow a maximum of three plants, or acquire weed as associates of non-profit cannabis clubs.

Dai Henwood ‘hugely helped’ by medicinal cannabis

Comedy legend Dai Henwood, who went public with his stage 4 bowel cancer diagnosis in January, told Stuff’s Generally Famous podcast medicinal cannabis is an integral part of his recovery from various medical procedures.

“It has been huge for me because I don’t tolerate opioids very well,” Henwood told the host, former National Party leader, Simon Bridges. “I was using CBD and THC to help with nausea and pain. Then, through chemotherapy, it is the main tool for me just because it helps with nausea, sleep and appetite.”

Dai henwood

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Henwood also discussed with Bridges the narrow loss for 2020’s cannabis referendum. “I was a bit disappointed with that as I thought the Government at the time had such a majority that decriminalisation was probably something actually to just pull the trigger on and move through.”

Aotearoa’s first submarine powered by cannabis, stopped by police

1News has the story behind New Zealand’s mysterious first submarine, now rusting on a beach west of Richmond in Tasman.

According to the report, construction was halted when Peter Mackey, the eccentric builder and designer, was busted by the local cops for growing cannabis nearby and sent to jail.

Hemp hash it

The NZ iHemp Summit was held Thursday and Friday at the Rydges Hotel in Christchurch. The NZ Hemp Industries Association says only industrial hemp has the potential to be the next multibillion dollar primary industry.

“A new horticultural industry is on the horizon, growing female plants for functional foods and the health and wellness industry. This removes the problem of pollen in traditional illicit growing areas, giving these regional economies a legitimate crop option”, Barge says.

“The 500 plus chemical constituents, including cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes, all have exciting potential.”

Coming up:

  • Substance Testing @ The Hemp Store every First Thursday, thanks to the NZ Drug Foundation. Dancesafe reagent kits available here. Our next hosted clinic is Thurs 7 September, or find one here.
  • NORML’s Cannabis Roadside Rallies in Auckland: High Noon on Ponsonby Road Sat 9 Sept & Sat 23 Sept, Grey Lynn shops Sat 7 Oct. Details on facebook or norml.
  • CannaPosium 7-8 October at the Surrey Hotel, Grey Lynn, Auckland. Tickets here.
  • Auckland J Day Saturday 2nd December in Albert Park (postponed from May – details here).


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. Chris – thanks again…I wonder if Labour will attempt to use legal Cannabis as an election bribe…it was, and is popular cause amongst Labour voters

  2. Your chance to legalize cannabis disappeared when Andrew Little & Labour ruthless crushed any further discussion on the subject. Will it happen under National & ACT? Unlikely, unless there is is corporate interest. So you now have 6 to 9 years to see if you can come up with a strategy to force Labour to do it.

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