Marijuana Media: Auckland J Day, Cannabis Taxes and Worldwide Weed


We’re still high from J Day this week on Marijuana Media on 95bFM with Chris Fowlie from NORML and Jonny from bFM Drive – thanks to The Hempstore!


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Auckland J Day blazes in the sun

New Zealand’s biggest cannabis event – J Day – saw thousands of people gather in Albert Park in Auckland last Saturday in an annual celebration of our Kiwi cannabis culture. There was certainly a “large high” over the city!

Big thanks and shout outs to Jafa Mafia for running the stage, our NORML helpers Cat, Chris and Abe; Gary The Weed Guy coming up from Wellie. Dakta Green lending his mana; all the musicians especially GrooveHouse for the J Day song; and ALCP candidate Chris Coker for leading the 4:20 celebration.

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In the shady glades we had Erin and the herbalists sharing their wisdom; Tadhg’s Hemp Foundation information displays; the Legalise Cannabis Party kept the flag flying; Clipper lighters had free giveaways; with Volcano Vapes and Medical Kiwi representing the legal side; and the cannabis culture stores and hemp growers who turned out to show their support.

Albert Park’s field of dreams saw thousands of people express themselves and enjoy Auckland’s ganja culture; learning from the Green Fairies, eating from the huge range of food trucks, and marvelling at the muffin bakers, chocolate makers, donut glazers, ganja blazers, rosin pressers, joint rollers, spot tokers, licence bearers, medical vapers, tea drinkers, hemp builders, and last-but-not-least, our awesome security, cleaners and portaloo providers who make J Day safe and enjoyable for everyone.

The next J Day will be in May. Or December – or maybe both! Auckland J Day brings an economic benefit to the region, with people travelling from various parts of the country to enjoy the occasion – staying in hotels and spending money here.

Legal cannabis would raise more tax than tobacco

New Zealand’s biggest cannabis event took place as new Government’s smokefree changes continued to make headlines – with National and Act using classic anti-prohibition arguments familiar to any supporter of cannabis law reform – including Richard Prebble writing in the Herald the tobacco prohibition was always ”doomed to fail” .

On Newshub reported Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick calls for consistency in Govt’s approach to tobacco, alcohol and cannabis.

The Auckland Central MP has long campaigned for cannabis to be legalised in a controlled way, and stricter regulations on alcohol, and said the Government should be consistent in its approach to drugs.

“Let’s say that instead of having criminal prohibition on one side or complete legal free market on the other, let’s have sensible regulation for these substances so that we can take an evidence-based approach to genuinely reduce harm.”

She’s not alone, of course. For example, Dr Art Nahill of Meadowbank had a letter to the editor published in The Herald this week, writing “David Seymour should immediately seek to decriminalise, nay, even legalise, all recreational drugs”.

With the headline More money in cannabis than tobacco, advocates say ahead of repeal, Stuff talked to me about how much money could be made in a safe, regulated legal cannabis regime, while bringing both economic and social benefits to New Zealand. I said there was more money to be made than from tobacco.

“Unlike tobacco where it’s literally a dying market and the numbers are dwindling, cannabis is booming all around the world because people recognise it is a safer alternative and that it can be managed really well when you legalise it,” Fowlie says.

Stuff’s Sam Smith also talked to Professor Joseph Boden of the University of Otago who said the government could do what they want to do with tobacco with cannabis and raise just as much money. “But that would have caused them to have to turn around their view on drug use being wrong.”

According to BERL, cannabis legalisation would generate $1 billion in tax revenue and 3000 legit jobs. Those were good reasons to vote Yes in the cannabis referendum, which narrowly lost by 49 to 51 per cent.

I think Yes could have won greater support if the proposed model was less commercial and had more emphasis on sharing the gains widely through a social equity approach.

“We were pushing for a halfway approach where you could have some legal regulated access, but you don’t have a full commercial model that the referendum had. We do believe you’ve got to have some controls around it and if you can take some tax while you’re doing it, that’s fair enough.”

This is the approach taken in most US states, and soon in Germany, and returning the profits to the community is a bit like the approach of West Auckland’s Liquor Licencing Trusts (although not as boring).

“There you have non-profit cannabis social clubs that control the distribution. It’s not overly commercial, but people still get access to it, and you’re putting the profits back into the community. You feed the taxes back into local projects, schools, police, all that kind of thing and everyone wins,” Fowlie says.

Me and my legal weed. (Photo: ABIGAIL DOUGHERTY/Stuff)

Looking to the future, I’m hopeful that the new Government’s drug policies so far have been anti-prohibitionist. There is nothing in their coalition agreement preventing law reform.

“We’re in the business of trying to change the law. So we’re optimistic, or we’d get up and go home. But what I would point to is that during the campaign, Christopher Luxon said that he was happy with the current settings. So you know, the glass is half full, you have got to kind of take that, as at least they’re not going to wind back any of the reforms that we have got.”

“The status quo is better than it was, and we’re in a better position than we were six years ago. But when we look around the Pacific, and we see reform happening in French Polynesia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Australia, I think there’ll be this natural pressure from what’s happening overseas.”

Another week, another bust: this one had uncanny timing, given the discussion on taxes and prohibition. Last Friday the NZ Herald reported on a $25 million Auckland drug bust with an alleged organised crime syndicate run by Vietnamese nationals busted in Waitematā and Counties Manukau.

Operation Beryl saw 53 search warrants executed, with 10 arrests and 42 cannabis grows located with 6886 plants and about 10kg of packaged cannabis seized. This has a street value police estimated at $16 million to $25 million.

In such set ups the workers are typically indentured ‘slaves’ smuggled here under false pretences of a better life but finding themselves guarding crops in suburban houses converted to grow ops. The cannabis may even be smuggled offshore to other markets. It is untaxed, and these law enforcement operations and extraditions are also expensive, so the taxpayer pays twice. Someone alert Nicola Willis.

Worldwide weed

Bula Fiji: Progress on cannabis law reform continues in our South Pacific neighbours. Benar News reports Pacific islanders seek big profits from budding medical cannabis trade. Fiji is set to legalise domestic cultivation of medicinal cannabis after being approached by investors from New Zealand and Australia.

Germany to grow local: Medicinal cannabis regulations will allow more domestic production and new legislation to legalise adult use, home growing and cannabis growing clubs is expected to take effect next year, reports Cannabiz.

Their medical scheme will have existing caps on domestic production removed. German license holders will be able to grow as much as they want. The cap on domestic production encouraged offshore growing.

Germany’s centre-Green coalition government has also agreed on several changes to their cannabis legislation. The proposals are now expected to be enacted in two parts: legalisation of adult use and home growing from March or April 2024, and the licensing of cultivation associations in July.

California to protect workers from workplace discrimination: cannabis is legal there and under a new state law, employers will not be able to reprimand or fire employees for off-duty cannabis use.

Tests will need to show impairment, not just previous use, so say goodbye to urine testing which can only show the inactive metabolites which remain after a person sobers up. Urine tests cannot ever show current, on the job, use.

The Cali policy will have huge flow on effects and raise the standards everywhere – like their more stringent environmental code. Technology-based solutions to impairment testing, which I’ve long championed, could show a loss of performance ability regardless of the cause; whether it be alcohol,, drugs, fatigue, stress, medications or a medical event..

This law will see Silicone Valley and other California innovators turn their focus to building apps and other technology-based solutions which could measure real-time impairment, perhaps in response to a set of tasks or games, or as you move around with your device in your pocket.

Drivers could also use such an app before getting behind the wheel. Better than problematic, false positive, spit tests and wasting the time of officers conducting roadside sobriety tasks.

A recent study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health found employees who consume cannabis during their off-hours have no greater risk of occupational injurythan do those who abstain from marijuana altogether.

Rather than being the cause of accidents, an estimated one in seven Canadians use cannabis products in their off-time to recuperate from work-related injuries, according to another study published last month in the journal BMJ Open.

Martha Stewart’s new cannabis product line was promoted in the Herald this week. The expanded range of CBD gummies “feel like a decadent treat that just happens to have therapeutic effects.”

“I was an early adopter of CBD and have become an advocate because I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits of adding it to my health and wellness routine,” she told People magazine.

Where cannabis has been made legal, the biggest growth in use has been with seniors. Some have rediscovered cannabis they long ago stopped using, while others have been turned on to the wellness benefits of CBD and THC. Latest figures show more than ten percent of older Americans have used cannabis in the past year.

Osborne family’s new level of grossness: It was Ozzy’s 75th birthday last Sunday. People magazine reports Sharon Osborne once pooped in husband Ozzy’s weed stash while on family vacation in Hawaii. Happy Birthday.

On last week’s episode of The Osbournes Podcast, the family matriarch recalled she shat on the stash, seemingly to discourage him from smoking, and not surprisingly he was not too happy.

On this week’s Osbournes podcast, the family shared their thoughts on legalising cannabis for recreational purposes. Ozzy said, “I think it should be legalized everywhere,” but Sharon the canna-crapper chimed in with “Marijuana is stuff that makes you into a blob and you sit there all day, you lose any incentive to do anything and I think it sucks.”

Ozzy is recently back on the (medical) weed, after reportedly stopping in 1980. But he’s consistently spoken in favour of legalising marijuana. “It’s only a leaf,” Ozzy told Rolling Stone in 2016. “There’s more poison in tobacco.”

We all have addictions

Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau’s alcohol use has caused a stir, with some questioning her ability to remain in the job. The discussion has highlighted the stigma faced by people with addictions and how they can still contribute and perform if we show compassion and empathy and treat each other how we’d like to be treated ourselves.

Two years of legal substance checking

There wasn’t previously any legal protection for people getting their drugs checked, or for the checkers themselves. Know Your Stuff marked the anniversary this week with a post which said the law meant “you’re covered, we’re covered, and everyone can get on with reducing harm”.

Coming up:

  • First Thursdays Double Kirihimete Special: Check your stash Thurs 7th Dec with substance testing at The Hempstore on K Road, 3-7pm, thanks to the NZ Drug Foundation (find a testing clinic here) and Thurs 21st December with SANG Band live and free Terp & Co tastings.


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!


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