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September 2, 2019 | by  | in Features News Splash | [ssba]

Yoon Hong: On Patrick Gower

A Heavily Abridged Interview by Yoon Hong for ASPA


National treasure, meme queen, and all-round legend Patrick Gower graced us with his presence on Tuesday to talk about his upcoming two-part TV doco on marijuana legalisation.


Broadcasting this September, the documentary sees Paddy travelling around New Zealand and the US to hear stories about marijuana, and the possible consequences for the country after next year’s referendum.


So sit back, rip a cone, and join us as Yoon yarns with Paddy about memes, marijuana, and Mike McRoberts. 





So Mike McRoberts loves to drop onto live television that he just ran a marathon. Will you be doing Round the Bays 2020 just to get him to cool it?


I’m not going to run any marathons. McRoberts can run the marathons, I’m the guy that makes weed docos. It’s my way of chillin out. No fucking marathons for me bro.




You studied a BA with honours at Victoria University and now you live in Wellington. When can we expect you to publish a book of anti-establishment Roman fusion poetry?


What the fuck is that?



Samantha Hayes, Hilary Barry, and David Farrier. lf you could smoke weed with any one of those three people, who would you pick?


Farrier, but being stoned around Farrier would be a challenge as well. Because he comes out with some pretty wacky shit. 


I would undoubtedly smoke weed with Farrier. Just because I like being around him. Wicked music taste, he’d put on some good tunes.


If I could get stoned with anyone in the world it would probably be Farrier. Not just those three.


David Farrier: the best person on Earth to get stoned with. He can have that title.



Why did you feel a need to make this documentary and show it to the world?


Yeah well weed is part of Kiwi life, right? When I was here, at Vic uni, we’d get on the bongs every flat you went to. Everyone had the spotty knives and had to hide them up above the oven or whatnot. We’d be doing Bucky bongs Friday, Saturday nights. A lot of my mates were stoners, I wasn’t really a stoner. But I mean from time to time I’d have a suck on a Bucky bong as well. 


And I think for lots of people, weed in New Zealand is part of their life. It might be major part they might carry on smoking or they might use a little bit but their friends use or whatever. And it’s here, right? People are using it for fun, people using it for medicine. It’s part of us. 


The other thing that’s having this country—cancer and other diseases are sweeping through older people, in particular, like a fucking bushfire right now. So weed’s come in with that, and so it’s even more part of life than the days of the Bucky bong back at uni. Or currently, for you guys. They still have Bucky bongs?



What do you hope to achieve with this documentary?


I don’t care if people vote yes or no in 2020. What I do want to achieve is that people are more informed about cannabis. 


First thing that I want to achieve is that people are more informed about the medical powers of the plant. We’ve legalised medical marijuana in New Zealand but we’re still waiting to actually bring it in so people can use it. And, every day that we wait, every day after making this documentary, I know that we’re leaving people in pain because there are people out there that could use medical cannabis right now and would use it and it would help them. It works. It does work. Anecdotally you can see that it works. Other than that it doesn’t harm people. 


The second thing is when it comes to 2020 I want New Zealanders to be informed. I have found it really hard while making the documentary to sit on the sidelines and see people pro and con just yell at each other. And the debate goes nowhere. Kiwis are brighter than that. I just want people to have good conversations and good thoughts in their own minds about cannabis. It’s a plant that deserves respect. 


That’s not saying I’m pro-cannabis. That’s not saying I want to legalise it. But there’s a lot to it and it deserves respect. I learnt respect for the plant in the documentary and it deserves to have a good debate. 


Just, let’s have a decent bloody kōrero about it.



So historically people of colour have been, and still are, the ones most affected by current drug laws. Would the drug reforms change any of that do you think?


The majority of people convicted of cannabis offences in this country are Māori. When, or if, we legalise medical cannabis and if we legalise recreational cannabis, we need to let these people that have suffered from all of the criminalisation around it back into the industry. 


One of the heartbreaking parts of the documentary was when we went to visit Blaqstar, which is a African-American cannabis company that’s that’s gone straight. They said, “Hey as soon as this got legalised, it was run 90 percent by white men.” 


That is not fair, and that could happen in New Zealand. The only thing that’s gonna save us from that is companies like Hikurangi over on the East Coast that is setting up their own business and aim to employ their own local whānau. The law change [should] allow the growers, the people who have been criminalised, to have their slates wiped clean and come and work in the industry that they’ve been in for 20 or 30 years. 


I’m worried the government doesn’t have a plan to deal with these kinds of questions that you’ve got here, because I think 100% there’s an obligation not just to wipe the convictions of these people, but to give them some sort of leg up into the industry. 



This is an Aotearoa Student Press Association interview. If you had the opportunity to write for any student magazine again, which would it be?


^Salient all the way forever and ever, is the best student magazine not just in New Zealand but actually right around the world, okay. ^Salient, love you.



Check out ^Salient on FB for the full interview, and the other student mags for more extracts.

Interviewer: Yoon Hong (he/him)

Techie: Navneeth Nair (he/him)

Guy hanging around trying to get a look: Johnny O’Hagan Brebner (he/him)

Special thanks to Vita Molyneux for sussing.


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