Marijuana Media: Police & helicopters; Mushies for meth; CBD in the Cooks; and which National Minister-in-Waiting has cannabis shares?


A former Thames cop recalls theft of cannabis from station lockup, NZ’s first licence granted to cultivate magic mushrooms, it turns out CBD is already legal in the Cook Islands, and which National Minister-in-waiting has cannabis shares? All this and more on Marijuana Media with Chris Fowlie from NORML and Aneeka from bFM Drive – thanks to The Hempstore!


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Police and helicopters: former Thames cop recalls theft of cannabis from station lockup

We’ve all recoiled from the familiar thud-thud-thud of police helicopters. A sound that should be reassuring, that help is on the way, is instead a threat to safety and liberty for anyone growing at home, in the bush or on the farm.

It’s particularly relevant now we’ve passed Labour Day, traditionally the time to start planting cannabis outdoors for the summer growing season.

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In this week’s edition of my favourite publication about valleys in Thames, The Valley Profile, former Thames police officer Ron Agnew reminisces about “Community policing as it used to be”, when “cannabis was the big deal for Police”.

But sometimes the cannabis growers and consumers got the better of police. The latest column recounts the time “Cannabis stolen from Thames Police station”:

“[An] annual fly over of the peninsula by hired helicopter by Police occurred, with a constable lowered by winch to pull plants out. There were quite a number of plantations uncovered each year on the peninsula, with some plants well over 2 metres high. They were winched back up and flown back to Thames.”

Agnew had secured “a quantity of very large plants” in the storeroom at the old police station at 760 Queen St, Thames, but he says unfortunately “I placed the plants against the window that night.”

Fortunately for some! When Agnew returned in the morning all the plants were gone. Someone had prised the window bars apart with a car jack, and carefully extracted every single plant from the storeroom.

The former cop also said some years they got too many plants to deal with, so they took them out back of the Thames airfield and set the pile alight:

“I don’t think we ever checked which way the wind was blowing to preclude the possibility of cannabis fumes and smoke wafting over and through Thames.”

He also recounted a particularly enthusiastic young co-ordinator at the Neighbour Support Group at Waikawau, who took all the reports of “suspicious activity” but was then busted for his own grow.

These days police still conduct helicopter operations in some districts – usually the stereotypical areas of Northland, Coromandel and East Coast, and even during this year’s cyclone aftermath – but rather than winch and burn they use roundup to poison the cannabis supply.

Inevitably some of that poisoned cannabis is still sold after a quick clean or used to make concentrates. That’s why New Zealand’s half a million cannabis consumers need legal and freely available testing services – and why growing your own plants should be legal or decriminalised.



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A post shared by Chlöe Swarbrick (@chloe.swarbrick)

This year, responding to police running helicopter cannabis hunting programmes in cyclone-hit areas, Green MP Chlӧe Swarbrick said we can’t pretend we have an evidence-based approach to drug policy “when these are the priorities during an emergency”.

Chlӧe called for the repeal of the 48-year-old Misuse of Drugs Act 1975: “Can you imagine a worst waste of resources?”

Sports Dept: Cricket Cup coverage captures cannabis cliches

Promoting their BYC Podcast, the Herald reports Australia “smoked the Dutch in a game that featured many highs. Possibly the pitch was baked.” Nice.

Mushies for Meth: First licence granted to cultivate magic mushrooms

Medicinal cannabis company Rua Biosciences has obtained the first licence granted in New Zealand to cultivate an indigenous magic mushroom that may be able to help those addicted to methamphetamine.

The Ministry of Health granted the licence for Psilocybe Weraroa, a variety of magic mushroom containing psilocybin, which is thought (like LSD) to increase brain plasticity and this may enable people to break free from entrenched thinking and habitual behaviour.

It is part of a project involving Rangiwaho Marae, based in Tairāwhiti, rongoā Māori practitioners, Auckland and Waikato universities, Environmental Science and Research (ESR), Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Mātai Medical Research Institute, an iwi health provider and other community stakeholders.

Indigenous psilocybin clinial trials team, Rangiwaho Marae, July 2023 (Photo: © Rangiwaho Marae)

“These taonga are provided by the atua and our people have been using them for healing and wellness for centuries,” said Rangiwaho trustee Jody Toroa told Derek Cheng in the NZ Herald.

“We have been learning from tohunga (expert practitioners) about how the taonga can help shift ingrained habits and unhelpful ways of thinking, to open up new possibilities.”

Rua Bioscience will grow the shrooms in their cannabis facility near Ruatorea – which recently held an open day, letting visitors inspect the facilities and try their hand at taking cuttings.

Rua chief executive Paul Naske described it as a ground-breaking project into “potentially life-changing medical research” and says it won’t detract from their medicinal cannabis work.

“Bringing together Mātauranga Māori, psychedelic traditions and contemporary neuroscience research is world-leading innovation based here in Tairāwhiti. We are excited to be able to support this kaupapa.”

The latest ESR wastewater survey shows the East Coast region has among the highest rates of methamphetamine consumption.

New Zealand Doctor reported:

Official Information provided by Medsafe last month to the New Zealand Drug Foundation showed that no one in New Zealand has been prescribed psilocybin to date in a clinical setting. Three applications have been made for using psilocybin in clinical trials, all in the past 18 months.

The Gisborne Herald also has a paywalled report. Here’s more from the Herald:

It is part of a resurgence in medical interest in psychedelic substances that started in the 1950s, but came to a screeching halt with the moral panic that saw them made illegal in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

There has since been a revival, with Australia leading the way. Psychiatrists there can prescribe MDMA (also known as party drug Ecstasy) for post-traumatic stress disorder and psilocybin for some types of treatment-resistant depression.

Last year the Australian Government gave more than $16 million to support seven clinical trials into the potential efficacy of treating mental health issues with psilocybin, MDMA, DMT, and CBD.

The Government in New Zealand has not shown any appetite at this stage to support such treatment, though the Health Research Council has independently supported different research projects into psychedelics, including this one.

The council has granted $300,000 over 18 months to Rangiwaho Marae for its clinical research programme.

“Their aspirations for this mahi is to comprehensively investigate the therapeutic potential of natural psychoactive molecules derived from taonga species in collaboration with iwi communities and Māori businesses,” said the council of the grant, “and to develop tikanga Māori (protocol) for safe administration of psilocybin-containing taonga species of mushroom (Weraroa) for the treatment of addiction and other mental health conditions such as depression in a marae setting, by, with and for Māori.”

Psilocybe Weraroa is one of seven varieties of magic mushroom endemic to Aotearoa. The initial licence allows for one variety, but the project team hopes to add more species in the future.

Naske emphasised that this development would add to the botanical pharmaceutical focus of Rua Bioscience, was cost-neutral, and in no way detracted from the commercial priorities of the company which is currently selling cannabis-derived medicines in Europe and Australia.

Island paradise: is CBD already legal in the Cook Islands?

CBD products approved in New Zealand may already be legal in the Cook Islands, according to a loophole revealed by a reader of the Cook Island News.

It follows their report last week that legislation supporting the availability of medicinal cannabis in the Cooks Islands will be tabled in Parliament in December, and Medsafe confirming cannabidiol products are allowed to be sold over-the-counter here.

In a letter to the editor, reader George Pitt says CBD products ‘are totally legal under our Drugs Act’. That’s because their drugs law says a person commits an offence “if they possess 250mg.or more of tetrahydrocannabinol, THC.”

Since New Zealand only approves CBD Products with less than 2 per cent THC, none of the currently approved products would contain more than 250mg of THC.

So not only can New Zealand patients take their CBD to the Cook Islands – now, ahead of any law change – but Cook Islands residents could also import their own, if it fits through that loophole.

Which National Minister-in-waiting has cannabis shares?

In a story covering some new Ministers-in-waiting selling off shares to comply with disclosure rules, Newsroom revealed Taupō MP Louise Upston, National’s number 6 and potentially the new Minister of Social Development & Employment, has shares in the “locally listed medical cannabis firm Cannasouth”. Nice one.

Senior National MP Chris Bishop says he’s selling his 500 shares in the Wellington craft brewery Parrotdog. Prior to becoming an MP, The Bish was beehive staffer and tobacco lobbyist.

Presumed Minister of Health Shane Reti has his own medical consulting company and has minority shareholdings in a medical practice and a private hospital in Whangārei.

MP’s declared financial interests are here.

My disclosure follows every column: I own a licensed medical cannabis company and the world’s longest-running hemp retail store. I’m legally prescribed medicinal cannabis – and I don’t want to be an MP!

Coming up:

  • It’s First Thursday next week on K Road, with substance testing at The Hempstore. We do this on the First Thursday of every month thanks to the NZ Drug Foundation. Thurs 2nd November, 3-7pm. Find a clinic here.
  • Auckland J DaySaturday 2nd December in Albert Park (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. If AO/NZ had been a healthy, emotionally balanced, informed and progressive country deserving of respect while evoking fairness and kindness Chloe Swarbrick would have been the Prime Minister which would be reflective our our collective maturity. Instead, we get cruel, macabre and nightmarish shit espoused by common rednecks so dumb, so evil, so ignorant and expensive too that it seems we’ve been time-warped backwards 100 years. Evil does certainly prevail where good people fail to act.
    We have a government instead by half wits for half wits. I’m sharpening my adjectives for the next three years that’s for sure.

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