Can I buy cannabis seeds from an overseas online store, and ship them here as a souvenir for a friend?

Question Details: I live in NZ and wish to purchase cannabis seeds from an online store based overseas. I intend to frame them (with other items) and give them as a gift to a friend, but would like to know if it is legal to ship them here and possess them? I don't intend to cultivate.

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Answers by Lawyers

Community Law Wellington & Hutt Valley

No, it is illegal to import cannabis seeds into New Zealand in the circumstances.

It is illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act to import 'precursor substances' into New Zealand. Precursor substances are things that are used in the manufacture of drugs, and include cannabis seeds. Importing precursor substances is illegal and punishable by up to 1 year's imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000. It doesn't matter that the seeds are not intended for manufacture. It is still illegal to import the seeds in the circumstances.

Also, if you import the seeds knowing that they are going to be used by you or someone else to manufacture drugs such as cannabis, you will face even more serious consequences, including imprisonment of up to 7 years.

It would be lawful to import the seeds if you had a reasonable excuse for doing so, for example doctors and pharmacists are allowed to import particular precursor substances if they can show that these are intended to assist in the lawful manufacture of certain drugs.

However, importing precursor substances to give as a gift is not a reasonable excuse.

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