THC News February 2017 - Page 10

The Hemp & Cannabis News FEATURES

February 2017 10

There is no doubt that 2016 was a significant year for the Cannabis Party.

A number of high profile New Zealanders were in the headlines supporting cannabis law reform while the party was actively continuing the campaign.

In January 2016 the Cannabis Party exposed a $78,000 fraud was being perpetuated by United in Compassion's CEO Toni-Marie Matich (aka Toni-Marie Connolly).

She was fundraising for a non-existent medical cannabis conference, which was supported by Children's Commissioner Russell Wills and the Drug Foundation. Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said he was happy to continue working with Toni-Marie despite the fraud allegations.

The story of Helen Kelly's campaign for medical cannabis to treat her own cancer made headline throughout 2016.

She was the most vocal proponent of a referendum about cannabis. Kelly worked closely with the cannabis party to develop a potentially-binding cannabis referendum.

She used her contacts in the Labour Party to have the Clerk of the House draft the legislation in the name of Damien O'Connor MP. Extensive consultation of Labour MPs was undertaken by the Cannabis Party leadership to gauge support for the legislation.

On two occasions Andrew Little (above) said he supported introducing the referendum legislation to the private members' ballot. However, under pressure from within the Labour Caucus, the legislation was never introduced.

When the Cannabis Party broke the news that Andrew Little supported cannabis referendum legislation he denied all knowledge of the draft bill and denied ever discussing it with the Cannabis Party leadership team. This was despite a photo being released of the meeting and the draft legislation being leaked.

The Cannabis Party played a significant role in growing a trial hemp crop in Canterbury. The hemp grew to over 10 feet and was a challenge to harvest. Thanks to a team of volunteers and a large harvester, the task was eventually completed.

The trial crop gave a valuable insight into which parts of process are achievable and which part of the industry are struggling. A lack of specialised hemp machinery was apparent as was the problem of keeping bird off the crop when seeds are developing.

The Cannabis Party has long claimed that the cost of cannabis prohibition was as much as $400 million annually.

Now the Treasury department has vindicated the Cannabis Party by agreeing with that figure. Adding the tax revenue from legal cannabis of an estimated $150 million, officials concluded that the public would benefit by $550 million in total each year from cannabis legalisation. That does not include the tax revenue from Industrial Hemp.

The Cannabis Party, along with other cannabis law reform groups, commissioned a poll by UMR research. Respondents were asked "Should Parliament change the laws of New Zealand so that patients have safe legal access to affordable medicinal cannabis and cannabis products when prescribed by a licensed doctor?"

The results were 76 per cent in support, 12 per cent opposed and 12 per cent undecided. Respondents were also asked "Should Parliament change the laws of New Zealand so that natural cannabis and medicinal cannabis products are treated as herbal remedies when used therapeutically?” This was supported by 61 per cent of respondents, opposed by 24 per cent, with 15 per cent undecided.

The Cannabis Party received over 40,000 hits to its website when it revealed that John Key had been channelling New Zealand taxpayers money to the Clinton Foundation's flagship initiative. This was around the time that the FBI began investigating the Clinton Foundation.

Despite the FBI, government officials continue to donate taxpayers money to the organisation. Over $13 million is being donated. Shortly after the revelations John Key resigned.

Cannabis Party president Abe Gray stood for Dunedin City Council and Mayor of Dunedin, narrowly mission out on becoming a councillor. Gray also meet with John Lord to discuss the state of the cannabis industry in New Zealand.

The Hemp and Cannabis News was officially launched in November, as a monthly online magazine.

In December Brandon Stronge stood in the Mt Roskill by-election, placing fifth.