Expert witness

If your case involves a serious cannabis offence, you may need an independent expert witness to:

  • review evidence and briefs, including technical data and indicate points of interest for legal counsel;
  • provide independent evidence-based assessments of potential crop yields and values;
  • provide to the court information on the use of cannabis and estimates of how much cannabis a person might reasonably consume over a period of time.

I have closely studied the cannabis plant and it’s associated culture since 1992. I have given evidence in the District and High Courts on matters relating the identification of cannabis, evidence-based estimates of crop yield, potency, sophistication of the operation, cultivation techniques, supply vs personal use, and current market values.

I have read and comply with the Code of Conduct for Expert Witnesses. Although I predominantly work for defence lawyers, I am not precluded from working for either side, and my primary responsibility is to assist the court.

Chris Fowlie – Expert Witness Biography

I’m New Zealand’s “pot geek”, and an independent expert witness for cannabis charges, having closely studied the cannabis plant and it’s associated culture since 1992.

I have given evidence in the District and High Courts on matters relating the identification of cannabis, evidence-based estimates of crop yield, potency, sophistication of the operation, cultivation techniques, supply vs personal use, and current market values.

I was the President of the non-profit National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML NZ) from 1996 to 2008 and again from 2013, was the editor and photograph selector of NORML NEWS magazine from 1998 to 2009, and from 1998 to 2011 was the chief photo judge for the annual “New Zealand Green” marijuana calendar, a task which involved assessing the quality and potency of cannabis from slides, print and digital photographs.

As part of my work running a help-line for people charged with cannabis offences, I have filed declarations, given evidence and consulted on numerous cannabis cases. I have reviewed hundreds of court cases as part of this work, including police reports and notes, search warrants, case documents, photos, court transcripts, evidence reports, etc.

I have been consulted by government agencies, testified before parliamentary committees, and regularly communicate with and consult researchers, physicians and some of the world’s foremost authorities on cannabis.

I am regularly interviewed by the media on matters to do with cannabis and other drugs, and have appeared on all New Zealand television networks, 60 Minutes, 20/20, the BBC and more. My articles and opinion pieces have been published in the New Zealand Herald, the Dominion Post, Craccum, Norml News, Cannabis Culture, and Matters of Substance.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Auckland, and won the Senior Prize in Political Studies. My cannabis research library extends to hundreds of books and scientific reports. I am familiar with every major report written about marijuana laws and policy, and have read most of the grow guides written about marijuana. I have conducted public lectures, including at the University of Auckland.

I have been a judge at Cannabis Cup contests in Canada, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand. I am the only New Zealander to have graduated from the Canna-business Coffeeshop College in the Netherlands, and hold the high score for that course, which included training in assessing the quality and value of hashish and herbal cannabis without consuming it.

I am personally acquainted with numerous medical marijuana patients, growers, authors and recreational smokers, and have observed indoor, outdoor and greenhouse grows and harvests. I have traveled to Australia, the United States, Canada, Europe and India investigating cannabis, and am familiar with all aspects of cannabis cultivation, sexing, cloning, propagation, yields, preparation, varieties and genetics, medical, agricultural and personal use, consumption and sales.

I have also visited hemp farming operations in Europe and New Zealand, where cannabis was grown under licence for fibre or seed. My business The Hempstore is a member of the New Zealand Hemp Industries Association and as part of my work I have consulted with licensed hemp growers, processors and manufacturers in New Zealand and around the world.

I have read and comply with the Code of Conduct for Expert Witnesses. Although I predominantly work for defence lawyers, I am not precluded from working for either side, and my primary responsibility is to assist the court.

My fees and further information

Fees for engaging an expert witness vary but broadly speaking they are similar to what a lawyer would charge.

As well as my own services, I can help locate and engage experts on other related areas of expertise, for example forensic analysis, contaminated site remediation, or pollen analysis (which can help identify crop locations and prove or disprove relationships between crops and accused growers).

Expert witnesses can be funded through Legal Aid, if you are eligible.

Have your lawyer contact me.

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