Thursday, July 24, 2014


The Town Police Station, where once cannabis was grown – by accident, of course. (Gloria Salavarria)

The marijuana (cannabis) plant that once grew in Lady Jane's garden on the Coromandel Peninsula. (Cyril, a friend of Gloria Salavarria's)
New Zealand police grew marijuana by accident years ago

Posted on March 13, 2014 at 6:00 a.m.

On New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula, a Californian from the San Francisco Bay region would feel quite at home and there’s a good reason for that. Following California’s gold rush, the Coromandel also had a gold rush with miners coming in from Cornwall, Wales and California in a mad rush to this remote corner of the world to make their fortunes. As in California, some succeeded but many went on to more down-to-earth pursuits such as farming in other parts of New Zealand’s islands.

After the rush, the rugged, mountainous peninsula of the Coromandel became the home of free spirits—artists, hippies, and other characters but more recently, the real estate land-grab has brought on yet another gold rush—yuppie Aucklanders in pursuit of beachfront properties and get-a-way cottages in which they can spend their weekends unwinding before going back to Auckland for yet another hectic work week.

Still, there’s a California atmosphere here that wafts through the silver fern and subtropical glens of the Coromandel. The Coromandel is one of New Zealand’s prime growing regions for marijuana and as a result, the New Zealand police conduct periodic marijuana raids to show that they’re staying on top of this illegal form of farming and thus they’re keeping the general public safe. However, on the local level, well, the police have learned the hard way that there can be unintended consequences.

According to Nigel, a local constable made a bust many years ago and then proceeded to burn the confiscated cannabis in a trash barrel out behind his police station. After things cooled down a bit, his wife took the ashes and spread them in the garden that she had planted behind the station and wonder of wonders, up popped marijuana plants in due time. The fire may have killed the plants but it did nothing to the seeds other than inspire them to germinate at the next best opportunity which the constable’s wife then provided.

Instead of pulling them up, the constable decided to let the marijuana plants grow and become a display where local folks could come and see what these plants looked like so that they could then report to him where he could find more marijuana to confiscate and burn.

The locals came, saw and then turned tables on the constable by raiding the station’s marijuana gardens—and so the constable’s marijuana plants were used to replenish the raided marijuana gardens in the woods and other hidden locations around the Peninsula.

The constable’s marijuana garden may be long gone, but the laughter still rings on over the years among the locals.