A South Island attorney fighting cannabis law enforcement cases says she sees an increase in the number of people being tried for using or supplying the drug as a drug.
It is at the discretion of the police not to prosecute anyone caught with small amounts.
Nelson attorney Sue Gray represented high profile green fairy Rose Renton in court in early 2019 and is no stranger to cannabis enforcement laws.
After the fall, she said there appears to be an “amnesty against law enforcement” for people who use cannabis as medicine or for the “green fairies” who supply it.
In the past few months, she said that has changed – with about a new customer calling her every week who has been caught using cannabis for pain relief.
She is actively involved in law enforcement activities in Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson Dunedin and Taranaki.
“Some of them are very, very sick and grow for their own ends. Others are altruistic, natural healers and they have grown to care for their friends and family and sometimes a slightly wider network of sick people. In some cases there are at all none, “she said.
Many of her clients have been released without conviction, but Gray said the arrest and judicial process is still “immensely burdensome,” especially for the chronically ill.
She said many cannot afford hundreds of dollars a month to get a medically prescribed cannabis product.
People looking to grow medical cannabis face an even bigger bill.
“It costs about $ 20,000 to get the necessary licenses, and it takes a long time. The process is very, very slow. That means that the people who were the local healers and green fairies are going to get $ 20,000 Can’t afford it. It’s left to the larger business organizations to try to work their way through this process, “she said.
This follows the raid on a Waikato property and the arrest of a man who RNZ said he was giving cannabis to about 50 elderly people in pain.
Jason Tong and his son found three indictments of cannabis possession and supply not guilty in Huntly District Court Monday.
The case has since been noted by Health Secretary Andrew Little, who said he expected police to enforce the law and also exercise discretion.
“In general, I think this government has indicated that the way we want drug law enforcement is based on public interest considerations,” he said.
Police have now confirmed that Tong’s case does not meet the discretionary criteria of the Drug Abuse Act, which applies to people caught with “a small amount” of drugs or drug paraphernalia.
Police said officers found a “significant amount” of cannabis on a property in Meremere with a street value of about $ 53,000.
Drug Foundation executive director Sarah Helm said the police could not be held responsible for enforcing the law.
However, she was concerned about the effects.
“We have a number of patients out there who are probably scared right now. They’re scared of being prosecuted, or they’ve probably stopped their own care – the ones who relied on the people who were convicted or arrested. ” She said.
Green MP Chloe Swarbrick said she kept hearing about green fairies being prosecuted.
She said they were just ordinary people who risked jail time for relief.
Swarbrick said attempts to get bipartisan support for decriminalization have so far been foiled by the National Party.
She will meet with the Minister of Health next week to discuss the matter.
“I think anything can change as long as there is political pressure – not just within these political walls, but also in public. To be honest, the patients I’ve met, young and old, deserve it.” . ” She said.
Helm said decriminalization must go hand in hand with urgent funding for more medical cannabis products.