Heroes of New Zealand
We live in an all-round wonderful place. From towering mountains to serene rivers winding through native bush, our country has astounding natural beauty and the communal spirit to match. Heroes of New Zealand aims to highlight those members of our communities who go underappreciated but embody the attitude that makes New Zealand the greatest country in the world.
No one wants cannabis legal more than those who need it. I’m not talking about your flatmate who loves doing cones; I’m talking about those in pain who need the reprieve that medicinal cannabis offers to live their daily life. There are members of our community, who at great personal risk, have been and continue to provide these people with the life-changing drug they need. They are known as the green fairies.
By the age of 21, a whopping 80% of New Zealanders are reported to have tried cannabis, proving that our country has a deep relationship with the drug. Most people use cannabis recreationally, but it can also be used to treat a range of conditions. Studies have shown that cannabis has numerous health benefits when used correctly from helping relieve chronic pain to regulating seizures, and in many territories the use of medicinal cannabis is already legal. In New Zealand, medicinal cannabis was legalised on April 1st, but the industry is small and those who need the drug may not always have access, which is where the green fairies come in.
The green fairy movement is a loose collection of growers/sellers who provide medicinal cannabis to those who need it but cannot wait for the bureaucracy of the legal channels. The one approved cannabis product in the country, Sativex, is not subsidised by the government meaning the price can be unrealistically high, and to be prescribed this product requires a specialist to sign off which increases wait times exponentially. Many cannot afford the cost or afford to wait for their prescription to be approved and therefore turn to other means which can provide them the treatment they need.
But what separates the green fairies from old mate Gav at the tinnie house down the road? Are they not just drug dealers who use the pretext of supplying those in need to get away with their nefarious money-making schemes? The green fairies do not wish to sell to those who smoke recreationally and require proof of a medical condition before they will sell to you. This proof, in the form of a doctor’s note which states the condition and the fact that cannabis will not interfere with other treatments, is sent to a gatekeeper of sorts, who then pass on the customer’s information to a green fairy. The seller will then contact the potential customer, ensuring their own safety, as they are still technically committing a crime. While numbers are hard to find, the network currently has a few thousand members, both sellers and patients, and is still active to this day.
The green fairies do not actively try to hide their existence. To do so would make it harder for those who are looking for help to access their product. They sit in a legal grey area; committing a crime according to the law but morally doing the correct thing by helping those in pain with a non-addictive (at least not chemically) drug which has proven health benefits. This moral and legal divide came to a head in February 2019 when Rose Renton, at the time the unofficial leader of the green fairy movement, was discharged without conviction for the crime of cultivating 58 cannabis plants. While according to the law of the land this should carry up to 7 years in jail, Rose was let off as the judge felt a conviction may impact her chances of becoming a medical cannabis supplier in the future.
Rose was let off as the judge in her case recognized that her actions were morally right, but illegal due to outdated laws. These laws have now been changed, but with large amounts of regulation and red tape those who need cannabis as a treatment still have a lot of hoops to jump through, and the green fairy movement is still an easier way for many to get life-changing treatments. The referendum in September on the legality of both medicinal and recreational cannabis will, if it passes, allow private citizens to grow two cannabis plants in their own homes (maximum of four plants per household). This will give sufferers of chronic pain the ability to cultivate and consume their own medicine, and will allow the otherwise law-abiding green fairies the chance to make a legal business out of their operations.
Fame, fortune, or even recognition for their efforts is not what motivates the green fairies to do what they do. They break the law, not for personal gain but to help others in their communities who are suffering due to the prohibition of a plant with the properties to help alleviate their suffering. This selfless attitude and willingness to risk their own livelihood to help strangers in need makes the mostly anonymous green fairies heroes, and they should be treated as such. So, in September get out and vote and change the archaic laws that force these heroes to commit a crime, when all they want to do is help those Kiwis in need.
The green fairies were contacted for comment but did not respond (and no, I’m not telling you how to find them)
By Michael Freeman