The Cannabis Diaries


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A True Story by Jeanette Saxby,
Paeroa, New Zealand

June 25 2015.

Dear diary,
Today I was fitted for an ankle bracelet. The first port of call was down to my new probation office and then home to wait for the security guard to fit my bracelet.
The security guard was a decent person and most of the day’s events passed in a blur. I was given some little booklets about the rules, how to charge it for two hours each day with the charger and not to leave the property apart from the boundaries.

The bracelet was black heavy duty plastic and it felt uncomfortable resting just above my ankle . It sort of rubbed and it was going to take me a while to get used to it.  Also my plan of wearing boots to cover it didn’t work out so well. Most boots are snug fitting around the ankle for support and looks. Even my gumboots no longer fitted my left leg. I wasn’t planning on wearing just one gumboot so… I will just have to cover up by wearing jeans and my ugh boots which are nice and roomy.
I’m pretty excited also because later tonight a good friend is bringing my daughter Jonee who is flying up from Christchurch to Auckland, from the airport to Paeroa . Can’t wait to see her and quickly end any shame I am feeling and hear how it makes her feel. Bugger not my finest moment.

Actually apart from a very long wait, her flight got in round 11pm but my friend is flying from Australia and gets in a couple of hours later and also has to clear customs finally she made it and all was well and forgiven.

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June 24 2015:

Dear diary,
Today I went to court.
I’m sure I didn’t sleep all night. This is serious Jeanette and there is still the slim possibility that something could change at the last moment. I trust my lawyer and she has been marvellous . Kristy Li , I’d still prefer that I could have a discharge without conviction but the pre-sentence indication was seven or eight months home detention and quite possibly some community service hours.

I got to a new town as I no longer have any sort of network of friends. I didn’t think I could trust the court and traffic to leave Phoenix my grandson at daycare and pick him up on the way back just in case.  I also wasn’t telling his mother what I had planned for the day due to the court papers.

I got as far as the McDonald’s past the Bombay hills and went to fill up and get some snacks when I realised I had no money. There was $22.00 in the account and I could only pump $20.00 gas for a trip of nearly two hundred and fifty kilometres. Oh fuck !
I looked over at Sid my daughter with tears in my eyes and said,”honey I’m sorry this day is becoming a cluster fuckery of my bad planning”
Being the amazing kid she is, Sid said,”it’s ok mum.”

I’m pretty good at staying calm under pressure but things seemed to be mounting up and today is not the day to run out of gas on the motor way with two children in the car while heading to court to be sentenced.

Today I am being sentenced in the Waitakere court in Henderson, Auckland, New Zealand for possession of cannabis and using premises to grow cannabis.
We make it to court in time, park in the car parking building close by and I head to court to see my lawyer. To check that my name is on the list and what courtroom I will be in. Sidonie is amazing and helpful by changing her little nephew into some clean and tidy clothes allowing me a few minutes to clear my head.
I have learnt to handle these situations mostly by compartmentalising things into bits. I sort out what I can and can’t think about and hide the bits I can’t think about away I some imaginary set of drawers that I can open again later.
I’ve also learnt worry solves nothing and I can’t change the course of what has happened already.

I always dress up for court. I always wear a dress and semi formal attire. My strategy is to look like a lawyer and not a criminal. I think it is a good strategy. I have been to court so many times over the years due to my job at Odyssey house, my cannabis offending, some family court stuff over my children and even the environment court in Christchurch to oppose a road closure. I don’t understand people who turn up to court with a bad attitude for the judge. At least play the game.
Things in court went pretty much as my lawyer Kristy Li said that they would. I stood in the dock,gave a tiny wee wave to my two year old grandson and daughter and faced the judge for my dose of bad medicine with a face that conveyed my awareness of the situation.  I was a knife edge away from jail and the judge read out that my sentence should begin at 27 months incarceration but due to my good character,no previous offending , my family and intractable set of beliefs I would get seven months home detention plus 120 hours of community service and I was to go upstairs in the court and sign my paperwork.

The day wasn’t over. I went back to the car and didn’t have any money to pay for the parking. It was $5.60 and I scratched around in the console and found $1.80. The parking attendant was called bass. He unbelievably dipped into his own pocket and paid the remainder. I have award sitting here to send to him to thank him for his act of kindness.
Back to the tricky compartments , now I need to get home or borrow some money. Oh and my phone is about to go flat. I know one person I could ask and we pass close to her place of work heading out down the south western motorway so I texted and got no reply.
I called and got no reply.
So I drove past her exit and crossed my fingers.
I’m not the greatest at Maths but I figured I didn’t have enough petrol to make it home. I know that when the fuel light comes on you have maybe 50 ks before running out.
We were also quite hungry from not eating all day so we looked around the car for some snacks. All we found were some dry two minute noodles but we are them and pretended they were yummy crunchy chips. Instead of dried flour and water. The car was covered in squiggly little pieces of dried noodles.
I didn’t want to alarm Sidonie as she gets pretty anxious. She was anxious and her strategy was to go to sleep. I guess she also didn’t sleep much last night.
Anyway we made it down the motorway and I racked my brain who could help and what could I do?
We turned off at our exit to the coromandel and the light was now on? Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck
Sweaty palms and sweaty armpits . Both kids were asleep.
I’ve now just passed 50 ks of red light petrol warning. Perhaps I could stop at a garage and get petrol and then get my card declined on purpose. Not a good idea if they wanted to call the police and call it a petrol theft. Not that I would ever consider doing a drive off!
Maybe I could find a truck driver having a rest and beg or borrow $20.00 off him with the promise to return.
I just kept on driving. The sun had set and it was dark when I passed through Ngatea,I kept on going, nearly home, just a few more kilometres and we will have made it.
And we did. To my great surprise and  to Sidonie’s great relief I made it home. Driving all that way on no petrol was more scary than court. Home at last.
Add the court documents.

22 June 2015
Dear diary
Today is Sidonie’s 15th birthday. I feel especially bad for her as 15 is such a hard time for girls and other girls who are 15 can be quite mean. My oven has broken and as a result I can’t make Sidonie the cake that I had planned. In fact not much is happening coz I blew the budget shopping for presents and cake but not a birthday dinner. Fortunately her Dad drove down from Auckland giving her a nice surprise and dinner. Good man.

18 June 2015
Dear diary,
Today is sids big day she is going to Auckland to see her favourite band and we are spending the night at a motel close to vector arena. Oh to be 15 again.
My lovely man friend meet Phoenix parents at the motel and he was picked up. The. We got stuck into some whiskey and a great dinner.
We walked down to meet her after to concert and stopped into Dominos to get Sidonie a pizza. It was a pretty great night. She is pretty lucky really although I’m sure she isn’t looking forward to next week any more than I am. Still it’s pretty good to have the end in sight.

17 June 2015
Dear diary
The probation report

10 June 2015
Dear diary,
Tonight I am going to Auckland to pick up my friend and spend the night in Auckland with him. He works in Australia and spends half his life at airports. It’s a new relationship and I’m not sure if it’s the one.
While we were watching tv in the hotel, a lovely one he used the word nigger.
My heart sunk, I don’t share my bed with racists and that was the death knell of this relationship.
How to break it to him ? !

6 June 2015
Dear diary,
Today a long long project came to an end.
I finally settled and the mortgage on my house came through. This has been perhaps an equally challenging process as the court case. I first saw this house advertised for sale on trade me in August 2014, but I was travelling to America for the burning man festival in Reno Nevada and then going to Denver to see what a legal cannabis industry looks like.
When I came back from America I put an offer on this house and was accepted. Then the banks raised the amount of deposit needed from 10% up to 20% . I had already been arrested and lost my business, my second residence,my income and I was wondering how I could pull off getting a mortgage.

Talk about piling pressure on myself. I also could see no way out of this dilemma. I have a family and we deserve a home of our own. If I lose my deposit I’m in trouble and I’m not sure I’d be as happy renting here in Paeroa,however I don’t really want to go back to Auckland.  
I have owned a home since I was married at 20 and was fed up with fucking horrible landlords.
My last landlord and place to live was lovely but I wanted my own home and now found one I could afford. I no longer enjoyed even visiting my old address as it caused me to feel anxious and quite traumatised because of what happened there that night in October last year.
I can’t relax there. I have flashbacks of the police storming down the lawn whenever the dog barks. It’s huge uncontrollable fear. I don’t think anyone can understand fear that strong. It’s not visible. its deep inside.

June 5 2015
Dear diary,
Today I did my home visit and interview with a very lovely probation officer. He came to interview me and prepare a report for the court based on his observations.
He was really kind and experienced man who was seemed genuinely interested in my truth. I provided him with a pictorial trip down my activist and academic career. It is safe to say I realise my passion for law reform has torpedoed my professional career and I felt no desire to complete my masters degree through more writing.
So I showed him some old pictures from my first election campaign on the west coast cost, my horrible media burn as a result. The headline “teacher may sue school ” was bogus and unkind. I did develop a far better relationship with that particular principal at a later date when he was working in Christchurch.
I lead him through my study as a teacher and then working with children affected by drug and alcohol.

I wish I was more aware of foetal alcohol a decade ago as reflecting on many children I have taught there was an illness that shared that affected learning and memory. The linking between information and activities wasn’t able to store and retrieve. Every week I worked with children that often had no awareness of last event and very little recall. At the time I didn’t know what it was. It made teaching difficult but their learning was even harder.

How hard is it for a child that lacks retention of information?

But no one wants to employ an activist and especially as driven and rabid as I was in those days.
Revisiting my old paperwork has been a good experience for me as I am so clear about the direction and reason I am committed to this cause.
It may seem self destructive and even foolish. But to be at the cutting edge you do get cut and hurt from time to time.
I felt proud at my achievements and pleased that I stopped the university study and opened the cafe as a practical experiment. The high tea cafe was the first of its kind. One day I hope there will be many of its kind throughout the country.

May 29 2015
Dear diary,
Today I got some new court process documents for custody of my grandson. Hmmmm it seems my daughter now wants her son back and isn’t prepared to discuss things properly or wait.
I am a bit ambushed by her approach, I didn’t see this coming and I wonder what is behind it?

May 10 2015
Dear diary,
It’s Mother’s Day.
I booked a restaurant earlier in the month to celebrate Mother’s Day, both me and my eldest daughter Inez who is now the mum of two little boys. I have custody of Phoenix her oldest as he was removed at birth. Inez has come such a long way in a short time. At the beginning of the year she wasn’t interested.
Sadly we had to cancel the brunch as it will only descend into a battle ground. I am struggling to comprehend their need to attack me to gain their son back. They have just given birth to a new baby and it seems to me pretty peculiar to be so focussed on getting back one happy little boy now, instead of enjoying the new baby.
Phoenix won’t appreciate the new baby and the new baby isn’t interested in anything much more than food and sleep. I find their underhand court application to be out of character and out of left field.  
Who does that to their mum after she has done nothing but support them. Inez has been an addict for a decade and now is clean a few months and already seems to have rewritten her past .
I’m a tough old bag and I have a sense of purpose to protect Phoenix at least until he is capable of speaking for himself.

May 8 2015
Dear diary,
Today is my pre sentence indication in court. My lawyer has asked me to meet her there at court at 1.45 pm and I will appear in court sometime after 2 pm.
Today the judge will outline what he recommends and then I will go and meet with a probation officer at my home and hero she will write a report for the judge outlining my reasons for offending the way I did and it will likely describe my deeply held belief that cannabis is a beneficial medicine and show the study I have done over many years.

May 4 2015
Dear diary,
Today I went on a blind date. I am really in two minds about meeting someone . I would love to meet someone who enjoys my company and likes me but I a also realistic about the fact that in couple of months I will be sporting an ankle bracelet.
I met a bloke who has the same voice as another guy I knew who made me feel creepy .

Should I let this put me off?

I don’t feel I am in a position of power or really any place to be judgemental. I think from my conversation today with this new bloke that he is open minded because he just described phil Rudd , the drummer from ACDC as interesting and not a total piece of gobshite.
Well if he can tolerate some crack head who has been trying to hire a hit man and threatening to kill someone I guess he will view my offending as pretty minor.
Though it isn’t a compatible or comfortable place for me to be in right now as I am mostly anxious and embarrassed.
Not only that, it’s getting harder and harder to source any good quality cannabis . The great thing about the high tea cafe was,for the past three years of its operation I never ran out of personal supply of cannabis and I never felt any back or neck pain either.
Now I am almost constantly in pain.
My back is stiff, stress is causing me to catch one cold after another and I can’t wait for summer to come back.

30 April 2015
Dear diary
I’ve been ruminating on something my counsellor said. I’m manic ! I’m not manic, nor am I bi polar. I’m stressed to the max and hanging on by my finger nails.
Here, let me explain my situation to you .
I am trying to settle on a house that has taken the last 9 months and three extensions to get finance approved and a lawyer to get my KiwiSaver funds. The due date just passed today and we have another extension. My Auckland lawyer bumbled and didn’t know how to get my KiwiSaver funds released and mislead me. I deduced the problem was her not me and got a new solicitor.
How often does that happen? Why me?
Then I’m single parenting a two year old and a 15 year old who has the usual emotional needs and drama common these days. She claims she doesn’t sleep, I suspect she may be a vampire.
I’m also off most of my usual medical dose of cannabis which help my back to be free from pain and allows me to be more flexible. It helps me deal with anxiety and helps me sleep. It also helps me smile.
But weighing heavily is the reaction from inez and Dan when I uplifted Phoenix. Why hadn’t they mentioned applying for custody?  Why call me several times a week about not coping, not breast feeding not sleeping , too much crying , sick with cold and strained backs but not allow me to continue to care for Phoenix.?
But I also know I will sentenced in a short time.

If I don’t get the mortgage done and dusted maybe I won’t get a loan?

I am constantly freaking out. I don’t know why I cope but I feel ok and I feel that I compartmentalise. I see my whole life as a big set of drawers, maybe a scotch chest and  each person or problem fits in their own drawer, and close the drawer and no longer think about it . I like the scotch chest visualisation the most because it has different sized drawers which allows me big and small problems.
Sometimes I feel really hopeless.

27 April 2015
Dear  diary,
It’s the start of a long weekend. Anzac weekend.
I don’t get commemorating the anniversary of 100 years. I would be celebrating if there was 100 years of peace and no armed conflict. That makes sense.
To me , how can you celebrate a battle overseas with great loss of life and still be sending troops overseas into battle.
Will we celebrating Vietnam one day ?
Why don’t we set a new standard for peace.
I am so saddened by the refugees war creates.
I feel war creates no winners only losers.

23 April 2015
Dear diary,
9.30 am dr Loeliger
Paeroa medical centre
I think I’m lucky to have a good doctor here.

22 April 2015
Dear diary
It’s my brothers birthday today. He has been having a bit of a rough time. I’m glad I sent him a text .
I certainly don’t enjoy how we argue about cannabis politics all the time but he is my only brother and I love him any way.

13 April 2015
Dear diary
Phew home.
Home meet sandy the new tenant.
Home to have a bit of a rest after the holiday. Missing Phoenix and can’t wait to go and pick him up.
I let Sidonie do some of the drive home and she is going to be a great little driver.

12 April 2015
Dear diary
Hanging out the the ex or at his house is never a great idea. I did enjoy my stay at Lyford and loved staying at Lynette even more.
Danny’s place is absolutely amazing but does he have to always be so bitchy to me?
It’s changed so much in the years. The trees we planted you can now walk under. Paths we had have now grown over. It is a bit of a sleeping beauty fairytale . I couldn’t see my way around up and down the property but I had a lovely time picking and eating perfectly ripe and plump blackberries.
As a kid raised on a rural small farmlet there are a few sounds that make me feel alive. A magpie makes a chirruping call that is unmistakable and strikes at my core. Cold clear sky in the morning and crunchy frost on the grass and the smell of broom and gorse flowers. All make me feel both wholesome and alive.

April 5 2015
Dear diary ,
I am in the most wonderful place.
I am staying in a tiny cabin at Marahau and I can hear the sea.
Marahau is a beach community at the start of the DOC Abel Tasman track and huts on the walk. You can also hire kayaks and paddle your way around the beautiful part of New Zealand the golden bay. It is a jewel of clear sea and golden sand with native bush and tracks around the region. It also has caves for exploring with a guide canyoning and pot holing and abseiling.  

It was my sister’s 60 birthday and an Easter celebration and she was having a party. Several of the local houses are available for rental and we filled the end of the street with lively 60 year olds, keen to swim as hike and eat and drink. And me , smoke a j.

I wanted to do my bit to make it the very best birthday ever and the a few trips to the supermarket and cake shop and florist was my job. It was easy except I drove the wrong way back, but I still arrived.
The night was beautiful and full of reminiscing. Koa and Ali are lovely couple and I hope she has decades of parties to come.
Someone produced some ancient wine which we found drinkable but another more knowledgeable claimed it was off and horrible.
Who knows, certainly not me.
That night I was the only one still awake at 3 am watching a lunar eclipse and blood moon appear. The moon did have a red glow and it slowly disappeared behind the shadow. Only to slowly reappear.
I found so beautiful and amazing while being a profound part of the natural world it excited me and I couldn’t sleep. I felt totally energised and stimulated. I felt I was seeing something remarkable and sacred. It was in a sense a rebirth. A renewal . Things change and appear so changed yet remain the same.  
I decided to allow more love to be given and received and open my heart as my change.

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