Cannabis entrepreneur Ross Smith faces a police investigation for allegedly breaching a judge's order related to a series of alleged harmful and offensive online comments.
On 31 May, the District Court at Tauranga made an interim harmful digital communications order against Smith over comments he allegedly made.
The applicant in the matter requested for their name not to be disclosed.
In his statement on the evidence presented by the applicant, Judge Brooke Gibson notes that the material breaches one or more of the communications principles set out in Section 6 of the Harmful Communications Act.
"His affidavit exhibits a series of texts and online posts that are plainly harassing of the applicant alleging criminal conduct, personal abuse of him, allegations that amount to denigration of the applicant's sexual orientation, whether they be true or not, and various vile and crass insulting comments, many of which are juvenile in content and are little more than poorly constructed malicious rants," Judge Gibson said.
Judge Gibson said that given the content of the digital communications exhibited to the applicant's affidavit and their frequency, it was suitable in this instance to put the interim order in place.
Under the judge's orders, Smith is required to take down or disable material concerning the applicant or his family and to refrain from the conduct subject of the application.
Failure to abide by the conditions of the order could result in a prison term of up to six months or a fine of up to $5000.
The Herald understands that the matter has since been referred to the police on account of allegations of continued abuse by Smith.
A source close to the matter confirmed to the Herald that the NZ Police is investigating Smith on account of this alleged breach as well as a number of other alleged offences related to his online content.
Smith is also potentially facing a defamation complaint from Mark Scapens and Murray McBride, the founders of cannabis company Eqalis Group.
Eqalis managing director Greg Misson told the Herald he was worried about the wellbeing of his staff due to some comments made online by Smith.
Misson said he was concerned the comments could escalate further.
Asked for comment, Smith said that he had not breached the order and informed the Herald he was speaking to his legal team.
In email correspondence shared with the Herald, Smith's barrister advises him to take down anything he has posted about the applicant and to avoid any contact with the person in the future.
Smith further said he was planning to take his own legal action in respect of other related matters.
A prolific cannabis entrepreneur, Smith was recently involved with the Medicann business, which went into liquidation last year.
He also has a long history of cannabis ventures in Australia.