[11 March/Stuff]

Growing marijuana has become a well-paid job for locals of a town in Ruatoria, north of Gisborne. They have pulled 5000 plants from the property, and they hang it over wire lines to dry under the sheds shelter. The employees are mainly ex-convicts who are happy to be out of prison and off the benefit earning an income that isn’t breaking the law. Hikurangi Hemp currently holds a licence from the Ministry of Health to grow two strains of marijuana for research and development purposes. Hikurangi Managing Director, Manu Caddie, said he employed his workers as they know marijuana plants the best. Ministry of Health Prevention Manager, Emma Hindson, says the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill doesn’t disqualify workers with criminal records, but the ministry was likely to bar workers with a drug conviction. The bill allows for a domestic medical cannabis industry for New Zealanders who have one year left to live. It does not mention exporting, however Hikurangi already has export deals prepared. Mr Caddie was open to giving the government a stake.