The issue of medical cannabis - CBD - has blossomed in recent weeks.
While the Government insists the Medical Cannabis Scheme will be in operation come January, it seems the legal community is taking the matter into their own hands, and leading the charge is Nelson lawyer Sue Grey.
A bit of history - one of Grey's cases made international headlines back in 2016. Her client - who suffered from chronic back pain - was prescribed medical cannabis in the form of chocolate bars in California. She posted some back to New Zealand, which was picked up at customs.
Grey argued she could qualify for an exemption had she had them on her person, so why couldn't it be the same via post? The client was discharged without a conviction. And the international stage took notice. But unlike other jurisdictions New Zealand's progress has been slow.
In 2017, Grey intended to sue the Government on the grounds CBD lacked the illegal psychoactive substance THC, so it fell outside the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Her terminally ill client imported CBD oil thinking it would get stopped at the border and could be used to mount an urgent challenge to the Government. But surprisingly the CBD got through the border unchallenged. He died of cancer before they could test the law further.
Since then, CBD restrictions were loosened in late 2017, and the Misuse of Drugs (Medical Cannabis) Amendment Act passed in December 2018. And so it was. The Government now accepts CBD doesn't fall under the Misuse of Drugs Act providing it has less than 2 per cent THC.
So the new legislation now provides an exemption for cannabis possession and use among the terminally ill. It means if you get certification from your doctor there's a complete defence for any cannabis possession or use charges (but not cultivation).
Grey says there's an issue where falling outside palliation - chronic pain, for example - could be a form of discrimination under the Human Rights Act.
It's of no surprise that Grey will be representing a client arguing palliation - the first in NZ - at the Waitakere Court next month. Then there's the issue of access and affordability as few doctors understand the endocannabinoid system or how to source affordable CBD products. And of the people who go through the system, few can afford the commercial varieties on offer.
It means a lot of Grey's clients are growing their own wacky backy or seeking help from 'green fairies'.
Green fairies are said to grow or supply CBD for their community. They're also getting charged, but in the case of one of Grey's clients, Rose Renton, she was discharged without convictions so she could qualify to get licenses once the regime comes into force.
Renton faced four charges, across two hearings, the last being cultivation of medical cannabis. Amazingly, District Court Judge David Ruth recognised that "the world has moved on a little" as of February this year.
"[T]his was effectively an altruistic endeavour on your part to help those for whom that help was otherwise impossible."
"[T]here is the difficulty which you would face if a conviction was entered against you today in respect of your ongoing endeavours and aspirations, and the duty you have taken on to try and assist people. That would involve you having some certification or licensing under the Medicinal Cannabis Act," Judge Ruth said.
Noting that she had no political motive, and the judgment shouldn't be taken as an endorsement of anybody breaking the law, Judge Ruth had "[c]ome to the view, without too much difficulty I can say" that the consequences to Renton would have been disproportionate to the offending.
Why have the courts indirectly entered the equation? Renton said it was partly because the law was too slow, but partly because Kiwis aren't too happy about inviting big corporates into the country.
"Anyone who has a fat wallet and a shiny belt can make money from the sick. And New Zealand doesn't like that."
But MP Chloe Swarbrick sees it differently, saying "it's an exciting and pioneering time".
She said it would be senseless and unjust for the courts to convict people when their culpability will be rendered legal by the end of the year.
Broadly speaking, green fairies will be offered amnesty in order to get a license to trade under the new regime. It means local producers can go to the Ministry of Health and declare their goods - without saying how they got them, or for how long - and for $1500 to get a license.
"There's the perverse reality that if there were to be no amnesty we'd have only commercial entities and implicitly say New Zealand doesn't have seeds, which is simply not the case."
"The war on drugs - it's the daftest line of rhetoric spouted by politicians for years [...] We've fallen prey to the power of moral panic, and over common sense and evidence."
"It's time to take this grey issue out of the shadows."
Did Swarbrick know of Sue Grey and Rose Renton's efforts?