Category Archives: Culture

Interview with Rob Van Dam – The Heavyweight Champion of cannabis!

Former world wrestling champion Rob Van Dam, known for his high-flying acrobatics and catch cry “RVD 420”, is also an outspoken advocate of cannabis legalisation. CHRIS FOWLIE caught up with the world’s weediest wrestler.

Chris: Rob, welcome to New Zealand! Can you tell us how “RVD 420” started?

Rob: RVD 420 as a moniker started itself. It was actually something I saw in a crowd one time. Some fans had it on a sign, and I loved it because we were in ECW, and WWE, the big company  with Stone Cold Steve Austin, had a very popular selling t shirt with Austin 316, or something, which means “I’ve just kicked your ass”, so RVD 420 became “I just smoked your ass”. As a parody it was  hilarious. And it was a tribute to being a cannabis consumer. ECW was totally against the grain, it was revolutionary, and [RVD 420] stood for everything the ECW stood for. It was aimed at adults, I mean they had a guy that would drink 5 beers before coming into the ring, we had foul language, we had adult film stars cast as celebrities. It was a really hard core crowd and I needed some sort of edge, and I really appreciated marijuana. So during the promos I would do, I would always drop little hints about it and then the crowd caught onto it.

You’re known as a mellow guy outside the ring, is pot a part of that?

Actually one thing about me is I’m also known as a martial artist. Throughout the 17, 18 years of my professional wrestling career I’ve always been the one to do the kicks, the one to do the flips, the  one that stretches for an hour before my matches, so as far as who I am as a person, I practise zenful life principles and I always try to avoid stress. It’s something I’ve worked towards, and I use the yin-yan symbol to achieve balance. I have it all over my wrestling outfit, my wedding ring is a  yinyan symbol. It helps me to remember that there is a balance. Bad is necessary to have good. You need to know exactly where to put it and accept it rather than becoming emotionally wrapped around it. All that does is ripple the steady flow I’m trying to achieve. I’ve spent years working at it and getting good at it and it’s a challenge but it’s part of my nature. Mom and dad always said even as a kid I was really hard to upset, that I was really even tempered.

Does pot help keep you on an even keel? Is it medical for you, like pain relief?

I consider all adult use medicinal, because what’s the use of getting high if it’s not relieving stress, not relieving anxiety or the social pressures we feel. A lot of normal people who think pot is evil are going to the doctor to get xanax, zoloft or prozac or whatever medicines I don’t even know about. But yeah it helps everything equal out. It inspires adequacy. It definitely does help with the pain, no doubt about that, and it helps take you to a place that’s a good place to be. It’s also referred to as a spiritual place. It allows you to ascend to a higher position to where you don’t have to be weighted down by the troubles and negative aspects of life. It’s definitely not a bad thing, there’s certainly no reason for it to be illegal. And I prefer cannabis to other dangerous drugs that’s gonna make me hyper or whatever.

With what you’ve seen of the medicinal marijuana law in California, with registered patients going to dispensaries, and the Green’s bill that’s happening here in New Zealand, that is modelled on the Californian approach, do you have any lessons or observations from that?

Well, a lot of opposers to medicinal marijuana think it’s a gateway to get it legalised recreationally, and I really can’t argue with that. Personally, it makes absolutely no common sense that it should be outlawed. I put the argument into three different categories of cannabis’ uses. There’s recreational, medicinal and material. It’s a fact if you do the research you’ll find out that cannabis is more effective and safer in all three areas. Using medicinal it’s easy to open people’s minds up because we do have dying people that are suffering who can absolutely for sure benefit from it’s use, and some people have enough compassion to drop the negative charges that were put on it, that we’re brainwashed into, that they can listen to reason and they’ll say ok, they should at least have it, if that’s what it takes. And if it only goes so far as to them being able to have it, then that’s good. I would however, from a personal perspective, like to see it opened up further and see it used in all three areas. Hemp doesn’t even have any THC in it and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to use it. There’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t utilise it. And recreational, I compare it to cigarettes which kill approximately one in five Americans every year. Pot’s killed zero. If anybody looks that up they’ll find it to be a fact and I think it will change their opinion on it. Most people don’t know that. They think pot’s a dangerous drug that will kill you because we’re taught that. I was lied to at school. Now that I know the truth, I just want other people to know the truth so they can base their own opinions and feelings on that. Fact is, if a lot of people voted on knowing the truth, we’ll see some changes made, and I expect to see that in the future.

So do we. Thanks for your time Rob.

(NORML News Autumn 2008)

Police spray Island community


Auckland drug squad members sprayed toxic poison over the township of Trypheena on Great Barrier Island, as part of the so-called cannabis eradication programme.

What’s more, they did it from a dangerously-low height of around 100 feet, at least 900 feet below the Civil Aviation Authority rules.

It happened on Sunday 3 February, the last day of the summer holidays. Around 1000 locals and holiday makers were in the township, enjoying the sunshine or waiting for the last ferry back to Auckland.

A spotter plane and helicopter hired by the police arrived on the scene and began dumping sprays  of blue poison over people’s back yards, roadsides, near streams, over a caravan and over weeds of the legal variety (see photos). It seems no cannabis was sprayed.

Outraged residents convened a town meeting and unanimously condemned the operation.

The Great Barrier Community Board is laying a complaint with the Independent Police Conduct Authority, while a complaint is also being laid with the Civil Aviation Authority.

Growers forced indoors

A report by the US Justice Department says the cannabis eradication program has driven producers indoors.

The US Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) is similar to the New Zealand police’s expensive, dangerous and largely ineffective annual eradication programme. Both use planes and helicopters to uproot or spray poison on crops, and co-opt gung-ho Army and Air Force personnel and expensive hardware to help them do it.

The report notes that one side effect of shifting indoors is that “groups will produce higher-potency marijuana year-round, allowing for exponential increase in profits derived.”

The report also notes that the eradication program had not reduced availability of cannabis, and said the US cannabis market is “saturated”.

(NORML News Autumn 2008)

Cannabis Culture Banned

Customs have finally succeeded in having an issue of Cannabis Culture magazine banned. The May/June 2007 issue, imported from Canada and distributed by The Hempstore, was sent to the  Office of Film and Literature Classification. In a decision released in late October, the Office ruled the magazine “objectionable”, meaning it cannot be sold or read in New Zealand.

Rulings on three previous issues had said the magazine could be sold as long as it was wrapped and restricted to those aged over 18. These rulings were based in part on a 1998 ruling on High Times magazine, which had said that the grow section was a small part of the magazine as a whole,
and even though it encouraged “criminal activity” it was not the “dominant effect” of the publication as a whole.

The Hempstore noted no complaints had been received by any members of the public
and said it is “the test of a free society that controversial topics can be openly debated without
the suppression of information from one side.” A ban would represent a “gross intrusion into
the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights Act”.

The censors did not agree, largely because they said this issue – which included interviews with Stephen Marley and Tommy Chong, art glass photography, pot puzzles, and international cannabis law reform news – also featured an article about making bubble hash.

They said the magazine “promotes criminal actions to a greater extent and degree than issues previously classified … The magazine’s focus on “profiling and promoting the marijuana industry” includes an extensive and prominent feature on converting cannabis trim to bubblehash … It is this feature, in particular, that influences the dominant effect of the issue under review. When encouragement to break the law is the dominant effect, readers are less likely to interpret the magazine’s support for currently criminal behaviour as advocacy of law reform and may be attracted to experimentation with criminal activities. In this context the availability of the publication
is likely to be injurious to the public good.”

While other issues of Cannabis Culture and Norml News are not directly affected by the ruling, it
sets a bad precedent and Customs may decide to send all future issues to the censors as they arrive. The latest issue of CC mag that is about to hit our shores features an article on “New
Zealand’s Irie Activists”. That’s sure to go down a treat with the fun police.

More info:


(NORML News Summer 2008)

Smoke on the Water: the 4th Annual Auckland Cannabis Cup


Now in its fourth year, Smoke on the Water has become one of the highlights of the cannabis  calendar. A select group of cannabis connoisseurs set sail for a secret location somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, where they sampled the finest cannabis New Zealand’s growers could provide.

This year’s cannabis cup competition drew a record 17 entries – comprising 6 outdoor and 11 indoor strains. I arrived at the wharf half an hour before boarding time, keen to set sail and start the difficult, demanding task of judging the Cannabis Cup. Old hands from previous Cups were joined by a large and enthusiastic contingent of first timers.

Once we were on the high seas, the judges gathered around the display table to inspect the buds. Entries are judged on appearance, smell, taste, and effect. As well as the general look of the buds, judges examined them with a lens to view the THC crystals, which are too small to appreciate with the naked eye. Now is the time for a good sniff to judge the aroma before the final and most important test – the smoking.

Plenty of joints were rolled and the judges diligently set to their appointed task. The afternoon was sunny with a brisk sea breeze and a gentle swell rocked the boat.

The lower deck was spotting headquarters, featuring the Spong – the spotting bong designed and made for the occasion by Big T (whose buds have been pictured in past issues). After a good session down below, climbing the steep narrow stairs took on the aspects of an adventure.

Judging the effects of top quality cannabis is inevitably a highly subjective effort – especially after the tenth sample . However, Te Kakariki won the indoor trophy for the third year in a row. It’s a fine achievement and shows Kakariki is a true champion. Some think Te Kakariki should now be retired to give others a chance – although we’d like to hear some feedback on that first!

R’s Dutch Treat came second in the indoor section and Southside Smiler’s White Rhino was third.  Also highly placed was Durban from the Naki and Afi x White Widow from somewhere in South Auckland.

The winner of the outdoor cup was Coronaki Afi by Flying High from Coromandel. In second place was Magic, also by Flying High, and third was Afi X by Shaun from Huntly. Coromandel was well represented among the growers – ganja bless you and keep up the good work!

Special thanks to Josh, who made the beautiful glass trophies awarded to the winners and pictured on the cover. His original creations, which he brought with him from California, were confiscated by Customs who decided the cups must be P pipes. Glass supplies and facilities were hastily organised and Josh pulled off a superb effort to create a pair of replacement trophies just in time  for the contest. And that just goes to show, prohibition does not work.

The entries – and winners – with some judge’s comments:

A – Afghani by Rourkus. “good looking”
B – White Rhino by Southside Smilers 3RD PLACE! “clears the sinus!”
C – Mandarin by NH. “nice smell”
D – Northern Lights by PP. “great trim, wonderful cola”
E – Te Kakariki by Ms. 1ST PLACE! “wow… what else is there to say?”
F – Skunk1 by Eg. “almost there”
G – Te Tuki by Ms. “sweet tasting, good smell”
H – Hash Plant by Cell. “not dense but great cure”
I – Dutch Treat by R. 2ND PLACE! “gorgeous!”
O – Durban by Ruby. “quite nice”
P – Afi x W. Widow by B4L. “yummy”

J – Black Herer by Daf. “dark taste”
K – Coronaki Afi by Flying High. 1ST PLACE! “great maturity”
L – Peka Peka Bay Bud. “bush weed”
M – Taramandel Tacky by Flying High. “great – could be perfect”
N – Magic by Flying High 2ND PLACE! “nice old style”
Q – Afi X by Shaun 3RD PLACE! “great strain, good cure”

(NORML News Winter 2007)

Safer Cannabis Use / NORML’s Principles of Responsible Cannabis Use

I drafted these guidelines for Sensible Cannabis Use, with input and peer review from leading researchers and consumer advocates. As Editor of NORML News I ensured they ran in every issue. NORML is a consumer advocacy organisation dedicated to reducing harm and encouraging more sensible drug laws. I had it adopt a set of Principles of Responsible Cannabis Use that define and limit acceptable use.

Safer Cannabis Use

Although the vast majority of people who use cannabis suffer no harm, some do experience problems. Ensure that your cannabis use does not impair your health, family, employment and education, and try to have periods of reducing use or not consuming cannabis.

Harm reduction:

  • Remember that “Less is More” – the less you use, the less you will need, and the more high you will get.
  • NORML recommends consuming organic cannabis.
  • Heavy long term cannabis use may lead to some respiratory damage. Deep tokes and long breath duration are more harmful to the lungs.
  • Water pipes and bongs help cool the smoke, filter solids, and absorb some of the most harmful tars in the water. Bongs can make the smoke very smooth, so avoid inhaling too deeply. Replace bong water each time and regularly sterilise your pipe or bong (eg using meths, alcohol or denture cleaning tablets)
  • Meningitis and other diseases can be transmitted through saliva, so don’t share spit on joints or pipes. Try using your hands like a chillum to hold the joint, especially if someone in the circle has the flu!
  • Try other ways of ingesting cannabis, such as eating or drinking it, or using a vaporiser to heat the herb and release THC without combustion.
  • When eating cannabis preparations, start with a small piece and wait an hour before increasing the amount, if desired. The effects of edible cannabis products may be stronger than smoked cannabis.

Health warnings:

  • Cannabis is best avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • People with a history of severe mental illness should reduce any cannabis use to a level agreed with their clinician, or avoid cannabis altogether.
  • Those receiving digitalis or other heart medications should consult their doctors before using cannabis.
  • Mixing cannabis with alcohol can make you more out of it than you intended. The anti-nausea effect of cannabis may also cause you to drink more.
  • Mixing cannabis with tobacco means more smoke damage to your lungs, and may make you become nicotine dependent.

NORML’s Principles of Responsible Marijuana Use

Adults Only. Cannabis consumption is for adults only. It is irresponsible to provide cannabis to people aged under 18.

Safe Driving. The responsible cannabis consumer does not operate a motor vehicle or other heavy machinery while impaired by cannabis, nor (like other responsible citizens) impaired by any other substance or condition, including some prescription medicines or fatigue.

Set and Setting. The responsible cannabis user will carefully consider his/her mind-set and physical setting, and regulate use accordingly.

Resist Abuse. Use of cannabis, to the extent that it impairs health, personal development or achievement, is abuse, to be resisted by responsible cannabis users.

Respect the Rights of Others. The responsible cannabis user does not violate the rights of others, observes accepted standards of courtesy, and respects the preferences of those who wish to avoid cannabis.

(NORML News Autumn 2007. Up-to-date versions can be found at and

Auckland Cannabis Cup ‘06

In late May the skies cleared long enough for one hundred cannabis connoisseurs and enthusiasts to board the Te Aroha for a boat cruise they would not forget – judging the third annual Auckland Cannabis Cup. 

With thirteen entries representing the finest indoor and outdoor cannabis in the land, it was always going to be a sought-after event. Those lucky enough to get on board were treated to delicious samples of fine marijuana anonymously named A or B or so on, dispersed in random order and marked with the all-important identifying letter on the filter end.

First came the close-up inspection with points awarded for appearance and smell. More points were awarded for flavour and overall burnability and most importantly, the effect. The Cups themselves were hand-blown by Josh in California before being smuggled into Aotearoa.

Judges who ventured downstairs to the spotting lounge usually needed help to get back out again and emerged dazed, confused … and ready for more. As the day turned to night it was hard keeping track of what had been smoked and what was still to come. It didn’t help that the boat kept turning in random circles to confuse us!

Still, everyone was there on a quest of discovery and set about their task with inspired dedication. There would be no stopping until every last scrap was tasted, sampled, sniffed, rolled and smoked!

Needless to say, there could have been a mutiny if it were not for the delectable munchies that kept
everyone satisfied and civilised.

Before the night was over we were treated to a “choice as” round of canna-comedy and songs from Auckland funny-man Gish, and plenty of dope music from DJs Sensei, Leo and Markee.

Returning to the wharf was like emerging from a strange dream. Did we really just spend 6 hours cruising up and down Waitemata Harbour in a smokefilled schooner? Yes, it appears we did. I can’t wait for next year!

2006 Auckland Cannabis Cup Results
1. Te Kakariki (F)
2. Shiva Shanti (B)
3. Te Tuki (E)
4. Bubbleberry (D)
5. Soggy 1 (H)
6. Irie (C)
7. Satin-A (A)
8. Special K (G)
9. Soggy 2 (I)
1. Purple Pineapple (K)
2. KC Hemp (L)
3. White Rhino (M)
4. Oromaeroa (J)

(NORML News Winter/Spring 2006, by Anon.)

2005 Cannabis Cup

One hundred canna-connoisseurs gathered on board the Te Aroha on Auckland’s Waitamata Harbour for “Smoke on the Water”, the second annual Cannabis Cup. This year we awarded two beautiful colour glass cups for indoor and outdoor growers, with points for appearance, smell, flavour and effect. The results were:
Indoor Cup
1. Te Kakariki (left) “ichy nose but worth it!”
2. AK47 by Pac “smell and taste supreme!”
3. Majestic by The Hills “delicious”
4. Devastar by Kiweed “tried it too
many times and knocked me out”
5. Opal by Leo “pungent lemon
6. Uno “irie ruderalis?”
Outdoor Cup
1. Kaipara Killer (right) “well impressed”
2. Silver Pearl by Da Boys “clear
serene high”
3. Whau Weed “back in the day”
4= Oromaeroa – a Rhino cross “tasty”
4= KC TRP “strong”
6. Westside Creeper “wooh! awesome hit!”
7. Kaanihi from the Urewera’s “choice”

(Norml News Winter 2005)