Pubdate: Wed, 28 Jul 2004
Source: New Zealand Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2004 New Zealand Herald
Author: Ainsley Thomson
Cited: NORML New Zealand
Cited: Waikato police
Cited: Green Party MP Nandor Tanczos


Marijuana users are being warned about poisoned cannabis being sold on
the Coromandel Peninsula.

A pro-marijuana group says the cannabis has been sprayed by police
with a herbicide, a process which turns the drug blue. Unscrupulous
growers are disguising the poisoned cannabis with yellow food
colouring to make it look green.

The National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml)
said the affected marijuana could cause people to cough up blood and
suffer nausea and headaches.

Police confirmed that when they found marijuana plots they sprayed
them with herbicide.

Waikato police spokeswoman Kris McGehan said the police would not
disclose any operational information such as when or how the plants
were sprayed.

Ms McGehan said she had not heard of people getting sick from smoking
poisoned drugs "but we are probably unlikely to for obvious reasons".

"If you are going to buy or consume illegal drugs that is the risk you
take. Obviously it is a criminal activity that we have no control
over." Norml spokesman Chris Fowlie said most growers were "legitimate
and ethical people".

"But there is a section who are attracted just for the money and if
they lose their crop through spraying they are going to want to
recover it some other way."

Mr Fowlie said those growers were disguising the poisoned marijuana by
covering it in yellow food colouring to make it look green. They were
also turning it into cannabis oil, where the blue colour was harder to

Mr Fowlie said the poisoned marijuana was mostly being bought by
teenagers who were likely to buy from sources such as tinny houses.

"We are getting reports that these kids are buying pot and smoking it
and getting sick or coughing a lot. Coughing up blood in some instances."

Green Party MP Nandor Tanczos said the police should let the public
know exactly what they were spraying so the health risks could be



What the marijuana sprayed with herbicide looks like:

* Chris Fowlie of the National Organisation for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws says the poisoned marijuana is a copper-blue colour.

* Some strains of marijuana, such as Te Puke Thunder, are naturally
blue, which could confuse people.

* But the poisoned marijuana looks like the blue colour has been
splashed or painted on.

* When the stalk on a poisoned plant is broken, blue dye should be
visible down the middle of the stalk. 
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