Censorship in New Zealand

On February 1, 2002, at 6:30am, five New Zealand Customs officers executed a search warrant at the home of John and Daniela Setter. The officers searched the couple’s home, located in the small town of Mount Maunganui on the island nation’s Northern Coast, and seized several copies of Cannabis Culture magazine, as well as the following books: The Big Book of Buds, The Big Book of Secret Hiding Places, The Construction and Operation of Clandestine Drug Laboratories, Magic Mushrooms Around the World, Opium for the Masses, Peyote and Other Psychoactive Cacti, and Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide.
Officers also seized a vaporizer, the couple’s laptop computer, and three pot plants. The reason for the raid was that Customs had noticed and objected to the Setters’ recent ordering of Psychedelic Chemistry from Loompanics, a US publisher of controversial books.

For possession of the cannabis plants, the Setter’s paid a mere $350 NZ fine. But the case of the banned books could result in more serious penalties than those for the plants.

New Zealand’s Office of Film and Literature Classification reviews all books, prohibiting anything which “promotes or encourages criminal acts.” Their decisions are then enforced by Customs. If charges are laid against the Setters, they are looking at a $2,000 NZ fine for each of the eight books, $16,000 NZ total!

Oddly, although the books are banned, Cannabis Culture magazine is legal in New Zealand, although it must be sold in a plastic wrapper and to adults only.