Along with the U.S., New Zealand regularly appears at the top of various global rankings of cannabis consumption. But our stoner friends down under are dealing with an unfortunate situation: There's a dire shortage of marijuana.
Earlier this month, police recovered 9,000 plants in an annual aerial operation, which affected both outdoor and indoor grows. Reporting for the Spinoff, one local writer described the situation as "catastrophic.”
"The bust is another blow for a nation already in drought," the story reads. "Marijuana, easily New Zealand’s most popular illegal substance, is almost unobtainable in any meaningful amount right now. Blame it on the police, the gangs, the weather or just the grow cycle of your average cannabis harvest; no matter which way you slice it, it’s dry out there."
Consumers say that they're being forced to pay up to five times more than usual just to get their hands on a measly gram and a half. Prices for an ounce are reportedly up by about 30 percent, and quality has gone down dramatically.
As terrible as the situation is for those who want to chill out after a stressful day, the drought has even worse implications for those who use cannabis as medicine.
"I haven’t had problems sourcing it for the last 14 years," one cannabis consumer told the Guardian. But due to the current shortage, he was forced to seek out prescription anti-depressants.
Possession of any amount of cannabis is illegal in New Zealand, and consumers can face hefty fines and prison time. Medical use of whole-plant cannabis is also illegal, but Sativex, a spray that contains THC and CBD, can be prescribed for patients with multiple sclerosis.
Neighboring Australia recently legalized medical cannabis, which has spurred new momentum for the cause in New Zealand. Plus, a recently discovered loophole in the law allows for any overseas patient to bring a month's supply into the country. The federal government has stated that they have no plans to close the loophole.
Here's hoping that cannabis-consuming Kiwis will soon get some relief. But with the loss of 9,000 plants in such a small country, it will be tough for supply to catch up with demand.
(Photo Courtesy of Rebloggy)