Episode Nine of the Friendly Aussie Podcast is yet another interview with Abe: our *technically* American friend who is actually a citizen of New Zealand. Abe is an avid ecologist, and a botanist by trade. So, like anyone who wants to become David Attenborough, he instead became a stoner; and eventually, a staunch cannabis advocate.
Abe’s activist days began with hotboxing police stations and forming autonomous zones for cannabis smoking on his University campus. Safe to say, Abe has become an important figure in the New Zealand cannabis scene. He is a co-founder of the Whakamana Cannabis Museum, currently located in the CBD of Christchurch. Whakamana roughly means “to empower” in English. Abe tells us that holding the title of ‘Cannabis Museum Curator’ has lended him plenty of legitimacy that he never had before. Pro tip: make it sound legit.
Cannabis Referendum: 2020
Abe is a really interesting guy. He’s pretty amused by the political realities of New Zealand, and his knowledge of that landscape seems encyclopaedic in depth. He arrived in the country way back in the turn of the millennium, just as the Greens/Labour alliance had dropped their campaign to legalise cannabis.
Not to be dissuaded, Abe set to work. For well over a decade, he pushed hard behind the scenes for a direct vote on cannabis legalisation, attempting a variety of strategies. Yet, with the election of the Labour/Greens/NZ First Government in the country, Abe finally (and perhaps inadvertently) got what he wanted, thanks to the issue finally becoming politically palatable to the ruling classes, again.
There’s an upcoming referendum on the issue of cannabis legalisation. This referendum will occur at the same time as the NZ general election in 2020, meaning a ‘higher than usual’ turnout. It’s still to be seen whether the referendum runs into some issues… yet the direct vote stands as the best shot the NZ cannabis community has ever had for a complete legalisation of cannabis in its many diverse forms.
We’re really grateful for Abe sharing his insights on the New Zealand political realm, and his thoughts pertaining to the upcoming referendum amounted to an excellent rundown for us. As Aussies, we really appreciate it!