19 Apr 2010
Forest owners are deeply concerned to hear that Customs doesn't bother to prosecute many people who illegally import cannabis seeds.
"Former forestry minister Jim Anderton is right on the button. There should be a nil tolerance for cannabis importers. The biosecurity and public health risks are too high," says Forest Owners senior policy analyst Glen Mackie.
"Plant and animal diseases, insect pests and weed seeds can easily hitch-hike in the mail. Cannabis use is a major hazard, especially in safety-sensitive workplaces.
"It is not for Customs to play judge and jury. It took probably only one varroa-infested queen bee to decimate our honeybee population. Didymo probably arrived on only one fishing line.
"What price, the single cannabis seed that brings in an exotic forestry disease? Or a new, more potent, strain of marijuana that makes affected workers a greater liability to themselves and those who work with them?"
Mr Mackie says the forest industry spends several million dollars a year on biosecurity protection, surveillance and research. It also has developed a drug- and alcohol-free programme, which involves random testing of anyone doing safety-sensitive work in NZ plantation forests.
"Jim Anderton strongly supported our initiatives in these areas during his terms in office and Customs should be listening to his advice now. Everyone who illegally imports plant material – let alone the raw material for mind-altering drugs – should, as a matter of principle, be prosecuted."
For more information, please contact Glen Mackie, 027 445 0116