Ngāruawāhia woman with 45 marijuana plants in garden let off with a warning

Cannabis, hemp, cannabis sativa. (Photo by FlowerPhotos/UIG via Getty Images)
Photo credit: Getty

A Ngaruwahia woman has had a lucky escape from the law, after police discovered 45 marijuana plants in her garden.

The maximum penalty for the cultivation of cannabis is seven years imprisonment, but all Tamara Garlick got was a warning.

Ms Garlick is a dairy farmer, who says she smokes once or twice a day and again before she goes to bed. She says she was growing weed for personal use, so that she could spend less money.

However last Tuesday, police received information regarding Ms Garlick's illicit gardening project and her crop was seized and destroyed.

She was formally arrested at the police station, and read her rights. The 28-year-old then explained her reasons for growing; namely she was tired of paying $370 per ounce.

"The cop said I'm just going to give you a warning for it," Ms Garlick told Stuff.

"Because you haven't been in trouble with us before, you are honest, you came forward, didn't make us chase you. I was like, cool, sweet."

A police spokesperson said situations are dealt with on a case by case basis, and the law regarding their approach to cannabis has not changed.

"Police officers do however, have discretion on how they deal with a range of matters, including cannabis offences."

Although Ms Garlick had a number of cannabis plants, police deemed her suitable for a warning based on her explanation.

As well as her explanation, police said the weed plants in Ms Garlick's garden were "very small, immature cannabis plants that appeared to have been poorly cared for". 

The Government will hold a referendum on the legalisation of marijuana in 2020 during the general election. 

The referendum has received criticism from the opposition, but a survey showed the majority of Kiwis would support legalisation.