A request by NORML under the Official Information Act has revealed police had a secret meeting with Internal Affairs departmental heads, and asked them to try to get marijuana law reform magazine Norml News completely banned.
Three issues of Norml News were referred to the censors on 7 May (no decision has been made yet) after massive raids on indoor gardening stores across the country, code named Operation Lime.
The documents reveal Police hope to have Norml News completely banned, as well as High Times and Cannabis Culture magazines.
Police had previously denied being involved with sending the publication to the censors, and a spokesperson for the Censorship unit told media at the time that there was nothing to suggest the request for a ban had come from the police. The Secretary of Internal Affairs said he was just “seeking guidance”.
Suspecting there was more to it, NORML News editor Chris Fowlie wrote to the Secretary of Internal Affairs under the Official Information Act, requesting any documents he held on the magazine.
The documents arrived today and reveal two police officers arranged a meeting with Internal Affairs department heads on 31 May 2010 “during which the existence of several publications dealing with the cultivation of cannabis and other illegal activity was discussed.”
The names of the police officers have been withheld because apparently making the information available would “be likely to prejudice the maintenance of the law.”
Police provided to Internal Affairs a property sheet that provides a strong link to the Operation Lime raids.
Police also asked the Secretary of Internal Affairs to pursue a Serial Publication Order – which would mean all existing and future copies of the magazine would be prohibited – for Norml News, High Times and Cannabis Culture magazines.
In a letter to his subordinates at the Censorship Office, dated 3 May 2010, Jon Peacock on behalf of the Secretary of Internal Affairs requests a ban of not only the three issues submitted, but also requests “consideration is given to issuing a serial publication order on the publication.”
A serial publication order would mean all existing issues would be banned and the magazine would be prohibited from publishing any more issues.
“We are outraged at this blatant political interference in our campaign for sensible drug laws,” said editor Chris Fowlie. “Police are lying to the media and misleading the public. They should admit they are behind this censorship, rather than hiding behind the faceless grey suits of Wellington.”
“If the police succeed in banning Norml News, this could criminalise thousands of people who have an old copy somewhere,” said Mr Fowlie. “We have printed more than one million copies which all found happy homes and a recall would be impossible.”
Press Release: NORML