A popular fast food chain is in the gun after promising its hemp smoothies deliver a "potently healthy" hit.
Habitual Fix uses slogans such as, "Man, that's some strong stuff", "Just ask your dealer" and "Don't panic, we also do munchies" to promote the smoothies - but it's not the drug references that have landed the company in trouble.
Instore advertising claims the health benefits of hemp oil include increased energy and metabolism, improved cardiovascular health, better immunity, eased arthritis and lowered blood pressure.
The hemp oil is blended with cucumber, mint, yoghurt and apple juice to make the $7.50 smoothies, that are served in a plastic cup with a cannabis leaf on the front.
The Ministry for Primary Industries confirmed it was aware of the health claims and was investigating. Unsubstantiated health claims are prohibited on food in New Zealand.
Tim Benest from Habitual Fix was unaware the campaign was being investigated and stood by the product. He gives his four children aged 4 to 12 a green hemp smoothie each morning.
"They love it. It's a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables."
Benest, who was also a franchisee for Hell Pizza chain and recently opened five Mad Mex eateries, said the advertising was meant to provoke discussion.
The hemp smoothie was the second-highest seller with 1,000 made each week around New Zealand, he said.
The store at Auckland Airport didn't sell many because airline staff cautiously avoided it due to drug testing concerns. "People still don't understand it has no drug in it. It is harmless but is very healthy. It's a fantastic product," Benest said.
Hemp oil is legal in New Zealand because, despite coming from the same plant as marijuana, it does not contain the psychoactive substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Bob McCoskrie from Family First was concerned harmful effects of marijuana were being used to promote a legal food product.
"It is legal - but we share the concerns of Food Standards Australia New Zealand that the availability of hemp foods may send a confused message to the public about the acceptability and safety of marijuana.
"We believe it would be inappropriate for Habitual Fix to minimise the harm or illegal status of marijuana through their marketing of this product, even if tongue in cheek - especially as this advertising is seen by young people and is also being pushed at a popular food outlet."