A man from Waikato who claims he gave free cannabis to elderly people for pain relief was searched and charged by police.
Meremere man Jason Tong yesterday in Huntly District Court found not guilty of charges of possession of cannabis for delivery and two charges of supply of a Class C controlled drug.
Tong said he just wanted to do his part for people in need – and that he had the support of a medical cannabis advocate who fears law enforcement against “green fairies” will become more common.
Tong happened to become a green fairy three years ago when his son was diagnosed with cancer and began looking for alternative medications, he said.
His wife discovered it was a cure for the arthritis in her hands, and he found it relieved his own severe back pain.
Tong started growing more plants and posted them in Kuia and barelyatua in his neighborhood – and then dozens of others around the country telling him they were in need and couldn’t afford any other medication.
It all ended a month ago when he looked out the window and saw police officers swarming around his property.
They took about 30 plants outside before moving inside.
“We just hacked all of our outdoor summer crops, so they took medication in one fell swoop for pretty much a full year,” he said.
“They searched the whole house. They took away all the cannabis, CBD oil, CBD balm and everything we had in the house.”
Tong believed he was targeted because two packages he dropped off at a post office in Pukekohe smelled like cannabis.
However, he insisted that the raid was misdirected.
“They seemed to think we were doing a big growth operation and feeding gangs,” he said.
“Sometime [during the raid] The detective in charge came out and asked me to tell them where the money or the safe was because if I didn’t tell them he said they were going to tear the house to pieces. I said to him at that point that there is no money. I almost laughed at him. “
Yesterday, Tong and his son appeared in Huntly District Court and were found guilty of undisclosed charges of possession of cannabis for delivery and two charges of supply of a Class C controlled drug.
He claimed he had done nothing wrong and wanted the police to consider dropping their charges.
“I don’t think we’re hurting anyone. The people we care for agree with adults and many of them don’t want to go the pharmaceutical route.
“Sure, there are some people out there who are trading drugs for the wrong reasons. But there are many of us who are doing it for the right reasons.”
Scope – or not
The law adds some latitude through an amendment to the Drug Abuse Act of 2019, which gives the police the discretion not to be prosecuted in some cases.
Khylee Quince, associate professor of law at Auckland University of Technology, said the situation was more complicated when this person was a green fairy like Tong with over 28 grams of cannabis.
“The law says that once you have that amount, it will be assumed that you have it as a drug dealer. While the problem with green fairies is motive – that they grow and deliver to help other people. You. You.” So they’re not traditional drug dealers, “Quince said.
Shane le Brun, coordinator of the Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand charity, said he was appalled by Tong’s situation but not surprised after seeing several of them in the past few weeks.
Medical cannabis is legal in New Zealand, but Le Brun said there is only one product that has been prescribed and for most people “cost is the biggest obstacle” with a price of up to $ 1,000 a month.
Until that changed, people like Tong would continue to be punished, he said.
This is another reason for the full decriminalization of cannabis, as advocated by dozens of social service and health care organizations last month, Le Brun said.
“You basically have to blow up the health minister and blame another politician for the drug abuse law.”
Tong said he visited his doctor and has now received a prescription for seven different types of pain relievers to replace the cannabis he used.
The police have been asked to comment.