Pubdate: Fri, 28 Feb 2003
Source: Daily News, The (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2003, Independent Newspapers Limited


John Setters loves studying how ancient cultures such as the Aztecs
and Incas used drugs in their religious rites.

But yesterday his passion cost him dearly. The 32-year-old Tauranga
man was fined in Tauranga District Court for importing drug-related
books which the Customs Department said were objectionable.

The currency trader copped a $6000 fine after admitting eight Customs
and Excise Act offences.

Setters had a fascination for Shamanism -- an ancient religion based
on witchcraft -- and mind-altering plants for the past 15 years.

His passion also covered how ancient cultures such as the South
American tribes, the Aztecs and Incas, combined drugs and religion.

Setters was charged after he used the internet to buy and import books
discussing the cultivation, manufacture and use of drugs such as magic
mushrooms, opium, cacti, methamphetamine and cannabis.

Crown prosecutor Simon Bridges told community magistrate Kevin Hurley
that on January 21, 2002, a package addressed to Setters was
intercepted at Auckland's International Mail Centre.

It contained seven books on a variety of drugs. Customs officers
raided his home, found the books, and arrested him.

Mr Bridges gave a brief synopsis of each book, adding that Setters
also had a vapourizer for smoking cannabis, and three cannabis plants
in his yard.

Defence counsel Craig Tuck argued that five of the books were
gardening-related, and said "the implication of sentence has an impact
on all the citizens of this country".

The prosecution meant New Zealanders "can't read about a whole genus
of mushroom, and can't read about ancient religions" and "much of the
(printed) material is part of registered religions in the US".

Setters said he had no illegal intention when he ordered the books,
but Mr Hurley fined him a total of $6000, plus court costs of $130.

Speaking outside the court, Setters said his convictions "set a
dangerous precedent" and asked if "in 1000 years will it be illegal to
have a Bible?".

"I'm sure people do it every week," he said, adding that Customs
decided the books were illegal after he had paid for and received them.

He felt the law was "making people accountable for input and what goes
into your head".

He had no interest in taking the Class A drugs the books discussed.

"The bits of no interest to me are what I'm being held responsible
for," he said, adding that if he wanted to make methamphetamine "why
would I get a book sent to my house when I can get the recipe off the
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake