120 Reasons: Brian

Seven years ago I was busted for growing the cannabis herb.

It was a bit of a mix-up: instead of a couple of clones - which give me enough to stretch out for a year - I’d been

given plants grown from seed.

Summer was hot, wet, hot, wet.

I left the plants to sort themselves out.

They grew tall and were spotted by a police spotter plane.

Early in march I’m in my caravan when two white, orange, blue utes come up the drive.

Four cops in dark blue overalls (so sexy) plus machetes.

I’d remembered four or five plants from when I last went to look.

Carrying them - dragging them on the ground - back to their utes.

The young, friendly head cop interviewing me called out how many?

Eleven came the answer.

Phew, that many!

I said to this young cop you know, this law against marijuana

is the result of an American in the 1920’s prejudicing Western

governments to ban it?

Ha! Of course he just gave a small shrug.

This a nice spot here he said.

I replied, what? you’ve just busted me!

I cooled down when he quietly said he could go through

the whole house, draw by draw, if he wanted to.

They were gone in fifteen minutes.


I’d planned to pass some of the harvested plants on to friends -

two in particular who, living in town, hadn’t room to grow their own.

I was pissed off. angry that this had happened.

A friend, a barrister in town, offered free advice.

No, he said - don’t tell the judge about growing for

your mates - that’s supplying.

Summoned, I went to court in whakatane.

Two older friends (now deceased) had sent me $100.

There was an immediate fine of $80 for going to court, so that helped.

I was convicted - a fine and forty useless hours “community service.”

I did it at the local school.

Sorting books in the tiny library, clearing out the garage.

It still sucked.


Funny thing, I’d started growing plants so my son wouldn’t have

to buy it - he really needed to save his money for more important things.

Then it became an annual event - a summer ritual.

A bit of hard work - but only two plants.

Many of my friends enjoy smoking it too.

I started smoking it myself as an adult.

Before that I didn’t touch alcohol (because my father and his

brothers were violent when drunk).

And my girlfriend for two years had been raised as a Morman.

When I lived in the Hokianga (part of a theatre group) just about everyone smoked this sweet-smelling herb.

It was a social sacrament.

Now it’s part of my life.

At 66 I no longer have to deal with anything fast-moving or up-to-date.

I eat well and exercise daily - mind and body.

I also whakapapa back to jazz and rock musicians who smoked it to relax, be in the present, access the right side of their brains.

One of the greatest artists, Louie Armstrong, smoked it every day (and despaired of the law’s hassles against it).

Yes, I think it should be a health issue - smoke in your lungs and THC in your mind.

I accept the consequences of late-stage emphysema (which is what Louis ended up with - then a heart attack).


What I have come to understand lately is that, while I’m comfortable managing it, others with a propensity towards

low self-esteem, depression and schizophrenia, and a myriad of mental disorders may not be.

So I say, let the harmful effects be known…and also how to get help if needed.

But the law has no place in our minds.

Our choices are our own to make.

Respect that you law-makers.

If you do, then I’ll respect you back.


Brian Potiki

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