Download/Streaming Audio (~15min.): Panapa Ehau, Radio Waatea Interview 31/10/17
Cannabis growers on the East Coast are looking at what they need to do to not miss out if the crop becomes legal for medicinal or recreational purposes.
The support agreement between Labour and the Greens includes a commitment to treat drug use as a health issue and have a referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis.
Panapa Ehau from Hikurangi Enterprises, a charitable company set up to pursue economic development opportunities for whanau and hapu around Ruatoria, says the company became an accidental hemp farm when it discovered one of the skill sets in the community was the ability to grow the plant.
Last year it put in a crop of industrial hemp, which has low levels of the psychoactive THC and this year seven whanau were licensed to grow trial hemp crops.
Mr Ehau says many whanau grow cannabis to supplement their income and if they are not at the front of the waka when it becomes legal they could miss out.
“Most of them don’t actually smoke it, they just grow it to supplement their income so they would much rather be able to grow it in their back yard rather than have to do it out in the bush, have the risk of getting it either ripped off or pulled out by the cops and all the negative ramifications coming if they get charged or they end up in jail,” he says.
Mr Ehau says the trials are allowing conversations to go on at community level about where the industrial hemp can be grown without cross-pollination from stronger crops.