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Grower fined $6000 after massive tobacco leaf find

Just as tobacco prices are about to soar, a 60-year-old Motueka man has been fined $6000 in the Auckland District Court for its unlawful manufacture.

Lawrence Reginald Jury was yesterday found guilty to being a party to the unlawful manufacturing of tobacco in breach of the Customs and Excise Act 1996.

In May 2010, a search warrant was executed at Jury’s address in Motueka.

Customs officers found 4790kg of tobacco leaf which, at the time, represented just under $2 million in revenue if the tobacco leaf had been manufactured.

Customs manager Shane Panettiere says the trial outcome is a real achievement for Customs and the officers who put their time and effort into the case.

“Our officers have worked tirelessly in putting this case together and their determination and hard work have paid off.

“Mr Jury was providing flue-cured leaf to an individual who he knew was unlawfully manufacturing tobacco. This is a criminal offence.

"There are rules around manufacturing tobacco and Mr Jury grew, harvested, flue-cured and sold it knowing that those rules would not be followed,” Mr Panettiere said.

Wellsford man Ross Ferguson (64) was also convicted and fined $1500 for unlawfully manufacturing tobacco with Jury.

Ferguson drove from Wellsford to Motueka to buy the tobacco from Jury, which he loaded onto his trailer before returning north with it.

In 2007, Jury was convicted for the unlawful manufacture of tobacco as a result of a previous Customs investigation. 


It was announced in last month's Budget that the tobacco excise will increase by 10% a year during the next four years.

By 2016, a pack of 20 cigarettes will cost more than $20, an increase of about $5, while a packet of loose tobacco will climb to around $40.

The Budget has also allocated $20 million for a new fund, Pathway to Smoke-Free 2025.

There are requirements for manufacturing tobacco in New Zealand. 

The premises must be licensed as a Customs controlled area, the tobacco produced is liable for excise duty and manufacturers must assist Customs on matters of audit and review.

Section 68A of the Customs and Excise Act allows individuals over 18 years of age to manufacture up to 15kg of tobacco annually exclusively for their own use providing they grow the tobacco at their place of residence.

Comments and questions

A "real achievement" indeed for Customs, destroying a man's livelihood for manufacturing a legal drug (though soon to be illegal, no doubt). A sign of the times, of the smothering Nanny State's encroachment on our rights and freedoms. I don't smoke, but why shouldn't people be allowed to if that is their wish? And why shouldn't people be able to meet that demand and make a buck or two out of it. The government's problem was that they weren't taxing Mr Jury's profits, to get their cut out of someone else's hard work.

$2 million in revenue - if they were selling the tobacco at retail prices (thanks government!)

HIGHLY likely it was being sold for a fraction of that price.

No doubt the $6000 will keep a few legal parasites and their hunting dogs feed.

Bugger, that just means I'll have to get my tobacco off another grower down in the golden sunny Motueka region. Ol Laurie Jury had a decent crop by the looks of it. But I'd be interested in who he was selling it to as while it's legal to grow tobacco if "its for personal use only" Laurie would be hard pressed to argue that he could smoke 4 tonnes of the weed himself!!!

The $6k fine is a pittance and Laurie could make that by selling only a few bags of the stuff.

Why isn't the crowd who was "unlawfully manufacturing tobacco" names or prosecuted by Customs????

What a bunch of weazers... Fag away as it will soon be costing you the same as your mortgage. Face it guys, we dont want our kids smoking and the sooner the stuff is out of our society the better.

parksy, you realise what you just said mostly qualifies you as facist? (while "think of the children" is a pretty tired, trite way of couching it ... )

"We should all be allowed to go to hell in the manner of our own choosing"

-Mark Twain

That's right: stifle free enterprise.

I'm surprised the fine isn't higher. The government doesn't like anyone muscling in on its most profitable business.

Spot on mate - its all about the tax revenue

If this is a "real achievement" with all of my tax dollars how about we just shut that department down then.

In the battle between freedom of choice to live our lives as we would want, and the thug state that exists to tell us how to live those lives according to its want, I have to draw the nasty conclusion on who has won.

As for these 'tirelessly working customs officers', evident of the harm done through the new found glory they believe themselves to have received from that lowest common denominator of Monday night reality TV, a Harry S. Truman quotation would seem appropriate:

"Whenever you have an efficient government you have a dictatorship ..."

"Customs manager Shane Panettiere says the trial outcome is a real achievement for Customs and the officers who put their time and effort into the case.

“Our officers have worked tirelessly in putting this case together and their determination and hard work have paid off."

So 3 years after his first tobacco conviction, Customs follows up and he's caught again. That's barely an achievement - in the private sector it's called following-up... but maybe in the public sector...

Oh, how far we have come (not). At school, we learn't how this region was the biggest and finest tobacco growing area in NZ. Its all still legal yet the Govt wants a bob each way by outlawing those who want to til the field,yet are happy to keep get its dirty mits on the tax revenues from the cig manufacturers. A plague on them,

Soon there will be a law requiring those that wish to grow tobacco for their own use, to register (more bureaucracy). Then this will be followed by special goon squads of govt fascists doing spot checks and dawn raids. NZ the way you want it.

No, they'll probably go the way of tobacco by doctor prescription, you can pick it up with the Viagra, so government really will control your life from the vege garden to the bedroom ;)

Shows how prevalent the black market will become as the Govt increases the price of a packet. There is no question it is a product the gangs will profit from, and they won't even have to develop their own brand as soon everyone will be selling it in plan packets.

Yet another example of do-gooder politicians telling people how to live, and making things worse in the process. If they were serious about getting tough on gangs they would not be giving them another product to create another income stream.

and yet every saturday and sunday my inlaw and his mates get inebriated on home brew and than go home and cause chaos.
no problem there is that i can see.

There is tax on alcohol and toboacco. But we all know the real health and social costs comes from overeating and lack of exercise. A weight based tax system in place of income tax should fix this. It is the green way to go!

Nobody forces anyone to smoke the stuff. At least the tax covers some of the health costs...