Hard News by Russell Brown


From Zero: Weed

The second episode of From Zero is available online this tumultuous morning. It's about cannabis.

I talked to quite a range of people for this episode: a dealer, a grower, an advocate and two doctors among them. But for wholly understandable reasons, most attention has focused on the interview I did with Helen Kelly, which turned out to be her last interview. A short clip from the video shot by Rebekah Parsons-King went nuts on social media over the weekend.

Here's a longer one:

Helen, being Helen, sought to deflect praise on to other people throughout the interview – but she did, in the end, accept credit for changing the conversation around not only medical cannabis, but cannabis in general. And then, after the interview, a funny thing happened – but I'll let you hear that for yourself.

One of the really pleasant parts of the gig so far has been paying a visit to Gerard Hindmarsh, one of the first wave of idealistic hippies to move to Golden Bay in the mid-70s – and plant marijuana. The episode opens with a walk around the 12-acre property he bought back then. Where a farmer would have drained the swamp on the land, he built around it. It's a heavenly place. He also showed me where he used to have a few plants, for personal:

There's also a gallery of pictures on the show page on the RNZ site, including a pretty impressive water pipe at the Hemp Store.

Even given what happened with ballot initiatives in the US last week, prospects for cannabis law reform in New Zealand seem slim right now. Only last Friday, I was in the room for a speech by John Key in which he reiterated that any kind of law reform was off the table, because "the message it would send to young people". Or something.

Anyway, I'm proud of this episode and grateful to everyone who helped. Have a listen.

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