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LETTER TO EDITOR: Tricky side to cannabis legislation

Saturday 17 December 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


LETTER TO EDITOR: Tricky side to cannabis legislation

Dear Editor: Te Marae Ora mainly buys therapeutic products from New Zealand and Australia. These generally fall under three categories: medicine - including prescriptions, over-the counter medicines, and complimentary medicines, such as paracetamol.

Medical marijuana is a prescription medicine sold in New Zealand and Australia. It includes marijuana flower and is classified as a therapeutic product in both nations.

In the Cook Islands, anyone selling marijuana leaves and flowers is prohibited under the Ministry of Health Act 2013 under Part 5[Pharmacy and Therapeutics Products]Regulations 2013,# 25, “Powers to prohibit import or supply of therapeutic products [1] states: “The Minister may ,by notice delivered to any person or published by any means determined by the Minister, prohibit the import, manufacturing, packaging, sale, possession, supply or use of therapeutic products of any specified description ‘namely, marijuana flowers and leaves’, either absolutely or subject to such conditions as the Minister thinks fit.

[2] “If the Minister gives a notice, he or she must, on the written request of any person, state the reasons for doing so.

[3] A person who fails to comply with a notice issued under this regulation, or any condition stated in such a notice, commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000,or to imprisonment not exceeding 12 months or both.”

When the police investigated suspects for marijuana possession, cultivation and sale, they did not contact Minister of Health Rose Brown and inform her that said suspects were in violation of the Regulations #25 to prohibit the import or supply of the therapeutic product, marijuana.

The police and Crown Law's ignorance of the law is inexcusable. They had a duty to inform the Minister of Health they had reasonable cause to notify her that these suspects were in violation of the Act, and it was warranted for her to notify them by any means that they must cease and desist all their alleged wrongdoing or be liable under conviction to a fine or imprisonment, or both. And therefore, since they were not notified of any wrongdoing, they have been wrongfully convicted under the Narcotics and Misuse of Drugs Act 2004.

If anyone thinks what I'm saying is far-fetched, consider this: "The doctrine of implied repeal is a concept in constitutional theory which states that where an Act of Parliament conflicts with an earlier one, the later Act takes precedence and the conflicting parts of the earlier Act become legally inoperable." In other words, the Narcotics and Misuse of Drugs Act 2004 has been overridden by the Ministry of Health Act 2013, because marijuana is now a therapeutic product and falls under the criminal jurisdiction of the Health Act.

Prime Minister Mark Brown tried to implement this same theory of the law regarding criminal charges brought against Deputy Prime Minister Robert Tapaitau.

It was reported in the Cook Islands Herald on May 25th 2022 that as the Minister for Police and Crown Law, "It is a fact the PM suggested that Tapaitau be charged under the MFEM Act and not the Crimes Act, and tried to persuade Crown Law to revise the charges".

The PM was not successful because the MFEM Act was written in 1995 and this older Act could not override the newer more relevant Crimes Bill of 2017. There was no new statutory standard that could be applied to Tapaitau.

The strength of our criminal justice system depends on its accuracy – in other words, it's ability to convict the guilty and clear the innocent. Now that Prime Minister Mark Brown knows our criminal system has made wrongful convictions on all people prosecuted for marijuana offences, I'm calling on him to exonerate everyone. Please do it before Christmas.


Steve Boggs

Netball in


On behalf of our two SMASH netball teams and our winning mixed team who took out Netball in Paradise 2022, we would like to thank everyone who organised this amazing event to support our Cook Islands National Team and to support our up-and-rising young women develop and grow. This has always been an awesome way to give back and support our own - by supporting and bringing down teams from overseas to play in this amazing competition.

A massive thank you to Jacopo and Matariki from DMCK who pulled everything off prior to our teams’ arrival and putting up with our many requests and changes from Netball Cook Islands.  

This year’s Netball in Paradise was different to past competitions pre-Covid. However, it is all still a learning curve for the Netball Cook Islands organisation. They may need to up their game and correct issues regarding registration costs, umpire costs, prizegiving costs etc. This will encourage teams from overseas to return and support the Cook Islands National squad, and help upcoming young ladies develop in the Cook Islands by supporting this major fundraiser for the Cook Islands.

We come away from this all bigger as a family and we are ready to come back in the New Year to do it all over again in 2023.

Thank you Netball Cook Islands, Thank you to our major sponsor Kiikii Inn and Suites in Tupapa, Rosie Napa, Tere Ioakimo, Pa Napa, Tia Bergin and Rose/Pa Raveora Family. And all our families and friends who hosted our teams in Rarotonga. And thanks of course to all our supporters in Australia who supported us to get to Rarotonga and who continue to support from afar.

Have a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.

Ashley Napa-Wichman and the SMASH family