Rural round-up


Govt accused of ‘greenwashing’ over failure to use Kiwi wool in public buildings – James Fyfe:

Pressure in the farming sector is growing for New Zealand wool products to be used in public-funded buildings and KiwiBuild homes.

Last week Otago farmer Amy Blaikie launched a petition demanding action on the issue, with thousands of people already adding their signatures. 

Wool prices are currently at a record low, with the costs of shearing the wool being higher than what farmers earn by selling it. Blaikie says the situation is “disheartening”.

“If nothing is done to help, inspire or spur the wool industry then the future looks bleak,” Blaikie told Newshub. . . 

Farming in a fishbowl – Sonita Chandar:

Just a 10-minute drive from Auckland’s bustling Queen Street lies a farm where our future farmers are being taught. Sonita Chandar reports.

It’s not easy being a farmer at the best of times but when you are surrounded by townies who just have to look over their back fences to see what you’re up to it is even more important to get it right.

Peter Brice is the farm manager at the ASB Mt Albert Grammar School (MAGS) Farm in the middle of Auckland city. 

Its 8.1 hectares milks fewer than 10 cows, has seven chickens, 21 Suffolk ewes, a Gold kiwifruit orchard and a native tree nursery. . . 

Small dams floated after scrapped Ruataniwha project – Anusha Bradley:

Potential locations for several small dams are being investigated by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

The decision was made by the council’s environment committee today and was being hailed as an important step in securing a long-term supply of fresh water for the drought-prone region.

“Water security is critical to the social, economic and environmental future of the region,” Regional Council Chair Rex Graham said.

“We want to take the ambitious approach and accelerate this work to future proof our water supply in Heretaunga. This will allow for cities and businesses to grow, despite the challenges of climate change,” he said. . . 

New recruits learn to drive tractors after losing jobs in pandemic– John McKenzie:

Four very large wheels, a ton of horsepower and a new career on the farm.

Run at Telford in South Otago, 120 people have signed up for the six-week course.

Most of them recently lost their jobs as airline pilots, jet boat operators, vets, pharmacists and tour guides among others. . .

Finishing line in sight for Extension 350 farmers:

Northland Inc’s award-winning Extension 350 celebrated a significant milestone this week as the project’s first three clusters approached the completion of their three-year journey of change, development, and opportunity.

Farmer-led and farmer-focused, Extension 350 (E350) kicked off in 2016 with the intention of getting a total of 350 farmers involved across Northland over a five-year programme.

The initiative aims to assist farmers in achieving their goals and objectives – profitability, environmental sustainability and wellbeing – through rigorous analysis and benchmarking, the sharing of information with their peers, and regular input from mentors, consultants and the E350 project team.

“The finishing line is now in sight for those first 15 farms and their journeys are almost done,” said Luke Beehre, Project Lead for E350. “The programme is all about providing a network for farmers, a place to share their stories and experiences, and to enable positive things to happen in their businesses and their home lives. . . 


Legalising marijuana- environmental negatives?:

There are many groups within NZ including the Green Party that are calling for the legalisation of marijuana for personal/medicinal use and my question for them is: – How can they reconcile that stand with the negative environmental effects from cannabis cultivation?

No matter where you sit on its legalization, growing marijuana affects our environment and that can be in a negative way.

Growing marijuana indoors requires copious electricity through the use of high-intensity lamps, air conditioners, dehumidifiers and much more. In order to grow it outside, streams become sponges, being sucked dry as seen in the outdoor grow-ops in California. . . 

Who knows best?


Former PM Helen Clark is telling us to vote yes to legalising marijuana:

. . . The recommendation comes off the back of a report released by her foundation, The Case for Yes.

“If you go back to 1994, in a speech that I gave at the time on cannabis, I took a position then that was based on what the Department of Health had been telling me, which was this shouldn’t be criminalised,” she told The Spinoff. “And so I took a stand on partial decriminalisation or partial prohibition. But my thinking has changed.”

Today, more than 80% of New Zealanders will try cannabis before the age of 25, said Clark, and irregular policing and systemic racism means it’s Māori who disproportionately suffer the most at the hands of the law. Therefore, legalisation is preferable to decriminalisation as it avoids the racial pitfalls of a system based on discretion.

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act that was passed in August goes some way in doing this, but Clark said it still has two issues.

“One, it leaves supply criminalised, and there’s often quite a fine line between possession and supply – there are plenty of people who end up in jail for supply who were actually just in possession. 

“And secondly, there’s discretion, and as our paper points out, we have a huge social justice inequity issue on discretion because we see with cannabis – as with everywhere else in the criminal justice supply chain – Māori disproportionately are arrested, prosecuted, convicted and receive custodial sentences.”  . . 

There’s a third issue – it’s decriminalisation by stealth.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. A. where several states have legalised the drug the Surgeon General Jerome Adams warns of the dangers of using it:

. . . “While the perceived harm of marijuana is decreasing, the scary truth is that the actual potential for harm is increasing,” Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Thursday during a press conference to announce the new advisory.

Surveys show that an increasing number of adolescents and pregnant women use the drug, which can be eaten, smoked or vaped.

But the surgeon general told NPR in an interview that many people are not aware of just how potent the drug can be.

“This ain’t your mother’s marijuana,” he said. The THC concentration in marijuana plants has increased threefold between 1995 and 2014, according to the report, and concentrated products can contain up to 75% THC.

“The higher the THC delivery, the higher the risk,” Adams said.

Young people who regularly use marijuana are “more likely to show a decline in IQ and school performance [and] are more apt to miss classes,” Adams said. And frequent use of the drug can also impair a child’s attention, memory and decision-making.

In addition, it can be habit-forming.

“Nearly 1 in 5 people who begin marijuana use during adolescence become addicted,” Adams said. “That’s scary to me as the dad of a 15-, a 13- and a 9-year-old.”

Symptoms of marijuana dependency include “irritability, mood and sleep difficulties, decreased appetite, cravings, restlessness, and/or various forms of physical discomfort that peak within the first week after quitting and last up to 2 weeks,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And marijuana becomes addictive “when the person cannot stop using the drug even though it interferes with many aspects of his or her life,” according to NIDA. . . 

Who knows best?

A former PM who’s arguing about the theory or a Surgeon General who has evidence about the use in practice?



Learn lesson from Colorado


Ben Cort, an anti-cannabis campaigner has warned New Zealand against legalizing recreational cannabis  after seeing the effects of the drug in his home state of Colorado:

Marijuana was legalised for recreational use in Colorado in 2012, meaning anyone 21 years or older can use, carry and grow the drug there. . .

“I spent five years at the University of Colorado hospital when we legalised and we went from seeing paranoia associated with it every now and again to multiple times in a day.”

He said legalisation brings with it forms of the drug that have much higher THC levels.

“People don’t understand that we’re not talking about a joint.

“People are smoking vapourisers that come in the form of functional pens that you can write and then hit… it’s not weed, it’s a concentrate. An 80 percent THC concentrate.” . . .

Legalisation has led to the commercialisation of THC which is far, far stronger than the cannabis of old.

It is an addictive substance. The stronger and more accessible the product is, the greater the problems associated with it.

He said legalisation hasn’t stopped people from using the drug dangerously.

“The driving under the influence, the working under the influence – it has changed my home.” . . .

We already have a problem with people driving under the influence of legal and illegal drugs and with people unable to work safely because they are drug impaired.

”You need to understand that we are not talking about the plant, the drug that people consumed in years past. It has fundamentally changed and that genie can’t go back in the bottle.”

“We have changed from a plant with two-to-three percent THC in it, to something that is 90-plus percent THC, put into sodas, water, gummy bears, tea, coffee, it is not the same drug.” . . .

New Zealand can learn the lesson from Colorado.

Suzy Ferguson interviewed Cort here.

New meaning for clean and green


Decriminalisation of marijuana is to be fast-tracked and growers of the crop will be licensed.

In a joint announcement by the Ministries of Health and Primary Industries, MoH spokesperson Dr Fairly High said that a growing body of evidence showed that the war on drugs wasn’t working and it was high time legislators took a health-centred approach to the problem.

“It’s potty to pot pot-users to the police and send them through the court system, their problems need to be addressed by the health system,” she said.

MPI spokesperson Dr Trooley Green said that licences for growing the drug would provide a welcome opportunity for diversification for farmers who were struggling to keep their heads above the financial waters in the wake of the dairy-downturn.

“New Zealand’s climate and soils are ideally suited to the plant and decriminalisation will allow law-abiding farmers to go where only gangs have gone before,” she said.

“Marketing will be a dream and give a whole new meaning to New Zealand’s claim to being clean and green.”

Dr Green said the licensing system would be simple and the Ministry was prepared to accept applications from would-be growers until noon today.




Proof pot makes you potty


A pot smoker protested against the advertisements warning against drugged-driving by posting on YouTube a film of himself smoking pot while driving.

The video is here –  don’t watch if you’re offended by bad language and/or stupidity.

More olds than news


Ho hum, United future leader Peter Dunne told the New Zealand Herald he’d smoked cannabis when he was  a student.

That it made headlines not only in the Herald but other media shows the loss of institutional knowledge in our media. He said he’d never denied it and he made the same admission about three years ago.

In the run-up to the 2008 election party leaders were asked if they’d ever smoked pot. Then-PM Helen Clark said something to the effect that she’d been a student at Auckland in the 60s which was taken to mean she had; then-leader of the opposition John Key gave a straight no and Dunne said yes.

Perhaps this time the story might be kept in the archives so that three years hence in the run-up to another election reporters and editors won’t repeat a non-story which is more olds than news.

Solving Kronic problems


When asked if she’d ever smoked cannabis, Helen Clark replied that she’d been an Auckland student in the 6os. That was taken to mean yes.

I don’t know if that is a reflection on the decade or the university but I was an Otago student in the 70s and had nothing to do with the taking or not of illegal drugs.

I smelt marijuana a few times, knew people who smoked it occasionally and had I tried to find some I probably could have. But I didn’t and, at least in the circles I frequented, smoking pot was not the norm.

But the idea that everyone did it and that smoking illicit substances is normal still persists which might be partly responsible for the problem of  synthetic cannabinoids. In spite of sales being restricted to people 18 and over, Kronic and similar substances are fairly freely available to younger teens.

However, that is about to change. Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced that cabinet has approved legislation which will ban synthetic cannabis products.

Cabinet has today approved amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill that will take Kronic and other synthetic cannabis products off the market for 12 months while the Government works on its detailed response to the Law Commission’s recent report, he said.

The Government has already signalled that it is looking at the Law Commission recommendation to reverse the onus of proof and require the industry to prove its products are safe.

The current Bill allowing the temporary bans is expected to pass into law this week, he said.

“We are going to create temporary class drug orders that will allow me to place a 12-month ban on these currently unregulated psychoactive substances and any new ones that come along.

“The bottom line is that these products are generally untested and we do not know the long-term effects of their use and we are not about to just let it all happen and pick up damaged young people at the end,” Mr Dunne said.

Previous legislation banned particular drugs. This time it will cover any unregulated drugs and reverse the onus of proof so that the safety of any new substances will have to be proved before they can be sold legally.

This will almost certainly create a black market but it will also send a strong signal that there’s nothing normal about selling mind-damaging substances, especially those aimed at young people.



Thursday’s post on the woman who called police to report the theft of her marijuana prompted Scrubone to post a list of alternative names for the drug.

One of the common ones is pot from which comes the expression pothead.

Would you also say this bloke who  taped his happy baccy to his forehead was potty?



A woman called police to report her marijuana had been stolen.

Is this why they call it dope?

Unintentional arrogance


Why do middle aged politicians think saying what they were doing in the 60s or 70s answers the question of whether or not they smoked dope?

When asked if she had smoked marijuana  Helen Clark replied she’d been a student at Auckland University in the 60s.

When asked a similar question her successor, Phil Goff, has given a similar answer, “I was a child of the 60s and 70s“.

I’d asked a perfectly straightforward question: Was he a dope-smoking hippy? And the rest of his reply was: “I was a child of the 60s and 70s.”

I said that of course the answer was “yes”, and he said “I’ve given you the answer” and I said “yes”, and so on.

Smoking dope might have been normal for Goff and his friends in the 60s and 70s, but that doesn’t make it the norm for everyone.

I was a child of the 60s and early 70s and a student at Otago University in the late 70s but I never smoked dope.

I’m not making a judgement on the presumption that Goff did smoke dope in the past. We all did things in our youths we might regret in hindsight and wouldn’t do now.

But his answer does remind me of the definition of unintentional arrogance at Open Parachute:

“The assumption that the way we define reality is necessarily the last word.”

We all have different realities, formed and affected by our experiences.

Failure to understand this is not just arrogant it’s ignorant and, especially in a politician, it’s dangerous because it blinds them to a variety of  possibilities for both causes and solutions.

Green leader wants to legalise pot


No, this isn’t in New Zealand, it’s the leader of the Canadian Green Party, Elizabeth May, who wants to legalise marijuana.

Is Turei taking over from Tanczos?


Nandor Tanczos was the Green face for decriminalising marijuana. Does this story  mean Metiria Turei has taken over his mantle?

Three students were arrested yesterday when Dunedin police swooped on a pro-marijuana stall on the University of Otago campus…

Green MP Metiria Turei, who was on campus and arrived at the scene towards the end of the incident, said the police response was over the top…

Ms Turei criticised police priorities.

“This was a phenomenal waste of police time. It is shocking behaviour for police just at a time when confidence in police is at an all-time low.”

While she had only arrived on the scene in “the last few minutes”, she said Gray’s treatment by police was “serious manhandling”.

“It looks very much like they are picking off young men who are running a political campaign.”

Another witness said the officers had not appeared heavy-handed in their treatment of those being arrested.

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