Exclusive: The illegal cannabis growers getting ready for legalisation

An illicit marijuana grower is ready to come out of the shadows and share his expertise with the industry following the recent passing of an amendment to the Medicinal Cannabis Bill.

An amnesty on illegal growers is being met with criticism from the Opposition, who say the Government is getting soft on drugs and liberalising cannabis under the pretense of medical need.

Martin* has been cultivating cannabis crops for more than 20 years - and while we can't reveal his true identity just yet, he is getting ready to reveal all.

"I'm sick of looking over my shoulder when I see the Police go by," he said.

"I'm sick of hiding away... you've got to be a ninja in this game or live a double life, like myself."

Martin says it'll make more sense to share his crop-growing skills once an amnesty is called on illicit cannabis growers, expected to take place this time next year.

"It'll take a while to change," he said.

"I think the first few years of this industry running will really show these other ones standing back in the shadows if it's worth coming in or not."

But National say medicinal cannabis manufacturers need to be "fit and proper persons" - not people like Martin, who have previous drug convictions.

"I'm hoping that they squash all the criminal convictions for cannabis, because a lot of us have been overcharged for this."

Hikurangi Cannabis is the first to secure a license to cultivate medicinal cannabis, and says our industry could thrive.

It says growers from some of our poorest communities, like Ruatoria on the East Cape, could benefit too.

"They've got growers there; it can help bring money into the community and that's all we want, we want to build the East Coast up," says the company's Panapa Ehau.

"They've been growing for decades and the Government's been chasing them for that - so with the change in the legislation making it legal, an opportunity for these guys or these whanau members that have huge amount of knowledge to be able to come into a legal space."

Growers could soon be out of the black market, and helping develop the cream of the crop.

*Martin is not his real name.


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