If the idea of traveling without your bud is a terrifying thought (because it is) then you may rest assured that from now on you and your bud have a cozy travel destination to go to! Better late than never but us green lovers and our flowery little friends are now welcome in New Zealand. Earlier this week California born, Rebecca Reider, successfully brought raw cannabis from Hawaii through the Auckland airport in New Zealand. Instead of hiding her stash in her bag or another less comfortable personal space she waltzed right through customs proudly displaying her stash of 1 ounce of medical marijuana. Can it be true? yes!
Misuse of Drugs Act was passed
Reider exclaimed, "We've made history. I'm the first person to possess marijuana in its natural form since the Misuse of Drugs Act was passed. It's huge." She continues, "It's long overdue. It's one small step on the road to a compassionate medical system here. I'm going to keep fighting for everyone else to have access because I realise not everyone can hop on a plane overseas." Reider was prescribed cannabis by her doctor for her chronic pain. This plan didn't just develop overnight; it had been planned for months.
Sue Grey, Reider's attorney, successfully exploited this old loophole and was able to get the Commonwealth to make a small concession. Grey quoted the section of the Misuse of Drugs act to prove her point, "A person, may, while entering or leaving New Zealand, possess a controlled drug that's required for treating a medical condition, of the person - or of a person in their care or control - if the quantity of the drug is no more than one month of supply and it's lawfully supplied to the person overseas and supplied for the purpose of treating a medical condition."
This law doesn't mention marijuana
Even though this law doesn't mention marijuana, and was never intended to be used to get bud into the country, this loophole makes it possible. This means that other Californians, people from Colorado, Dutch folks, and many more can get the green light to bring their stash with them.
New Zealand customs and legal activists
As the whole situation played out there was conflict between New Zealand customs and legal activists. The policy of the Customs Department remained oppressive. The Health Minister, Peter Dunne, said that, "Even if it is disclosed on the arrivals form, is lawfully obtained overseas, was supported by a medical prescription and is for a month's supply or less," then all marijuana products would be seized at the border.
Fundamental human rights
Attorney Sue Grey thinks that this position isn't only reactionary but it is also unlawful. Grey responded to Dunne's statement by saying "In breach of representation on their website and it breaches fundamental human rights, and I invite New Zealand Customs to urgently review their position." As long as the person has a valid prescription then they are technically on the correct side of the legal system, although you might need a lawyer like Grey to prove it.
Although some Kiwis are still opposed to making cannabis legal for themselves, a poll revealed that the majority of them want marijuana legalized. The impressive NZ Drug Foundation poll found that of the 15,000 respondents, a significant 64% of them think possessing a tiny amount of cannabis for personal use should either be legal (33%) or decriminalized (31%). Less than half of them (34%) believed that possession of marijuana should remain as a class c drug, thus illegal.
Rebecca Reider said she wanted to work with others to create a guide for other people going overseas to get prescribed cannabis. She believes, "We've got to keep fighting for a right to access it. Our ultimate goal is to make it legal and accessible right her on New Zealand soil for everyone who can benefit from it." Arik Reiss, activist and documentary maker, was there during the historic event and shared photos of Reider coming through customs holding her stash proudly. Reiss said it was, "a huge victory for patients and progress as a whole for NZ."
Mouth spray Sativex
Currently the only form of medicinal cannabis that is available in New Zealand is the mouth spray Sativex, a marijuana based pharmaceutical often prescribed to patients with conditions like multiple sclerosis. Since it isn't funded by Pharmac it costs about $1300 a month.
Realistic thing in the future
Even though you medicinal smokers out there with wanderlust may not be able to go globetrotting quite yet with your favorite strain in your pocket, it seems that it may be a realistic thing in the future. Thank you Rebecca Reider for having the guts to go for it! We can only hope this paves the way for other countries to consider a reform.