Green MP Julie Anne Genter witnessed first-hand the horrifying effects of the synthetic cannabinoid crisis that has claimed seven lives in the past month.
She witnessed a homeless person in central Auckland a week ago rolling onto a busy road while having seizures.
She and several other Green Party members, including co-leader James Shaw, had just finished dinner in a Japanese restaurant after the party's conference.
They were walking along Customs St when they came across a man collapsed on the footpath having a seizure outside a shop.
The shopkeeper was half-keeping an eye on him, the MP told the Herald, and he was already in the recovery position. One of her group called an ambulance.
"The shopkeeper and we were gently trying to revive the guy and he just rolled into the street and started spasm-ing around.
"He would get to his feet, then start spasm-ing.
"He didn't know what was going on and would just collapse again and rolled further and further on to the road into Customs St.
"We all went out and stood kind of around him so that the traffic knew to go around."
After about five minutes, he got to his feet and started walking down the street and the group followed.
By that time St John Ambulance had arrived and took over from them.
Genter said the shopkeeper knew his name and had said "he was quite a good fella", that he usually used P but that he was on synthetic cannabinoids.
"He lives on the street and hangs around that shop so the shopkeeper knows him and said he was one of the more gentle of the people living rough around that area and that he wouldn't hurt anyone."
He had had mental health issues as well as addiction. She guessed he would be aged in his 30s or 40s.
Genter said the ambulance took about 10 minutes to get there and that she was pleasantly surprised.
She said the crisis needed urgent action from the Government.
"Homeless people are particularly vulnerable because they are looking for anything that will help them sleep and get through these very cold difficult nights."
The police should be looking for the source of the product that was killing people "but it is going to be difficult to get to the bottom of it if we aren't taking a health approach to the people who are falling victim and using it".
"It makes it harder to seek help when we treat drug use as a criminal issue rather than a health issue."
The Government needed to be reaching out to the people who had been affected to get to source and to ensure there was testing available for users.
But there was a gap right now, she said.
"You either go through the police or you take a health approach and there really isn't anyone in between."
The police needed to be resourced with addiction and health specialists to work with them to curb the ongoing epidemic.
Genter also said that if cannabis were legalised, the problems would not be so severe.
"I think if cannabis were legal we would have less of a problem with these dangerous alternatives."
The Green Party says a strong, healthy and diverse agricultural sector is essential to an economically viable and environmentally sustainable New Zealand.
Much of the party's policy is Green boilerplate with encouraging the licensed cultivation of industrial hemp in economically depressed rural areas the most novel.
The party says its Agriculture and Rural Affairs policy is about future-proofing the economy by protecting the environment.
The Green's focus is on reducing New Zealand's agricultural dependency on oil, agri-chemicals, and imported feedstock, protecting soils and water quality.
The party is adamant that New Zealand must live up to its reputation as "Clean and Green" and an exporter of high-quality products to maintain its export reputation, And it wants the environment to be kept GE free.
Specifically, the party strongly supports mandatory country of origin labelling for all single-ingredient imported agricultural products.
It wants "food miles" to be addressed by supporting farmers to reduce emissions during production and by educating overseas consumers to shift the debate from "food miles" to "ecological footprints" and it wants more research, education and support to enable a transition away from industrialised, fossil fuel supported agriculture.
Growing the Organic Sector
- NZ Herald
Often considered the material of choice for hippies and a strain of cannabis with no high, Hemp is one of the most versatile plants around.
Laws are in the process of being loosened around the non-psychoactive cannabis, which will allow the country's 40-odd commercial growers to sell the seed as food. Enter: Plant Culture, a pop-up restaurant and hemp protein company hell-bent on educating New Zealanders about hemp and its nutritional benefits in a factual, safe and professional format.
Over four evenings this August, Plant Culture will be serving a four-course set menu all made with hemp seed. The menu is entirely plant based, gluten-free using non-allergenic ingredients and has been designed to showcase the versatility and benefits of nature's most nutritious seed. Picture a menu comprised of: gourmet bread, pizza, ice cream, and chocolate — all made with hemp seed. The menu is matched with non-alcoholic beverages.
Hemp seed is one of the most abundant, environmentally proactive forms of protein and Omega 3 on the planet. Get involved.
The harm associated with gambling is almost double that of drug use disorders, new research has found.
AUT Professor Max Abbott's research also found the quality of life for a low-risk gambler can drop by 20 percent.
He says the study is the first of its kind in New Zealand, and the findings came as a big shock.
"[It] enables us to make comparisons with other health conditions and the results are actually staggering.
"This is a challenge, and I think it's a credit to the New Zealand Government actually that there is recognition of the harm and measures to address it."
Prof Abbott says although governments make revenue from gambling, New Zealand's measures to prevent harm are helping.
The study found six main areas of gambling harm, including:
"It's important to note that not all harms are equal," Prof Abbott said.
"Problem gamblers can experience debilitating consequences on their quality of life, whereas people at low-risk levels might experience manageable but persistent effects that can get in the way of enjoying life.
"While serious problem gamblers and people close to them experience the greatest harm, the study shows that many other people are harmed by gambling. In fact, low-risk gamblers are associated with the greatest proportion of New Zealand's gambling-related harm."
A man growing cannabis to treat his wife's chronic pain has been told to deal with his partner's condition "without breaking the law".
Judge Richard Russell said he would not be drawn into the cannabis debate in New Zealand and had to apply the law as it stood.
"I'm not going to be entering into the cannabis debate, that is for Parliament to decide. But I agree with police, your culpability is at the bottom end," Judge Russell said.
Murray Ian Snowden, 56, admitted cultivating cannabis and possessing ammunition at the Blenheim District Court on Monday.
Police found four cannabis plants when they searched Snowden's property at Spring Creek, north of Blenheim, on May 24.
Judge Russell accepted he only grew the plants to treat his wife's pain, and that he did not use the cannabis himself, or sold it.
In May, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said "some, if not all" class C drugs should be reclassified and regulated, sparking a debate into whether cannabis should be decriminalised or legalised.
Police also found several rounds of ammunition, nine live and others used, at Snowden's house, a police summary said.
Snowden's lawyer Rob Harrison said the cartridges were likely left over from before he lost his firearm's licence some years ago.
"They've just been sitting in a shed."
Judge Russell accepted it was an "oversight" by Snowden.
He convicted Snowden on both charges and sentenced him to come up if called upon.
"If you're found again by the police in possession of cannabis or you're growing cannabis, those charges will be recalled and dealt with alongside the new charges," Judge Russell warned.
"Find a way to deal with your wife's health without breaking the law."
He also made an order for the ammunition seized by police to be destroyed.