by MICHAEL OTTO
There is no evidence that Mother Suzanne Aubert ever used or grew cannabis, her order says, despite claims made in a new film about the drug in New Zealand.
According to a press release from the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, a new film called Druglawed mentions Mother Aubert. Druglawed had an “Underworld Premiere”
in Auckland in January.
The film, which is a documentary about the cannabis issue in New Zealand, is scheduled for a “World Premiere” in Dunedin in “the coming months”, and will be shown on the film
According to the party’s press release, “the film also documents New Zealand’s first cultivator of medical cannabis, Mother Mary Aubert”.
Another media report stated that Mother Aubert “concocted medicinal brews of cannabis hemp to ease menstrual pains as well as to help asthmatics and recovering alcoholics”.
The order founded by Mother Aubert, the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion, sent a statement on the issue to NZ Catholic. The statement was based on information from scientist
It said that stories about Mother Aubert experimenting with or being the first person in New Zealand to cultivate cannabis (marijuana or hemp), are based on anecdotal accounts “many
times removed from a direct source”.
Such accounts stem from the 1960s, the statement continued.
It also quoted a DSIR toxicologist’s paper from 1971 which stated that, before 1965, the drug (marijuana) was virtually unknown in New Zealand.
“No cultivation of the plant was known and few of the general public knew anything at all about it,” the paper stated.
The sisters’ statement added that, “at the Home of Compassion, with its considerable archive of material available, no physical or documentary evidence is known that Suzanne Aubert
ever used or grew marijuana”.
The statement concluded that, given the paucity of evidence, it is unlikely that stories about Suzanne Aubert and marijuana have merit.
The Roman postulator for Mother Aubert’s cause for sainthood, Fr Maurice Carmody, said it is a pity she is being used for “party political purposes”.
Fr Carmody said he had seen no clear evidence that Mother Aubert (1835–1926) used “hemp”, but even if that was the case, it would not have been for “recreational purposes” and
was “within the accepted medical parameters of her time”.
“As such, no moral blame can attach to her and her reputation for holiness is unaffected.”
Fr Carmody said Mother Aubert’s cause is being examined by an international committee of theologians in Rome.
“We have been told by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints that they will hand down their vote after the European summer break this year,” he said.
The alleged connection between Mother Aubert’s medicinal remedies and cannabis is mentioned in an entry in the official Te Ara: Encyclopaedia of New Zealand.
The encyclopaedia entry, title “Drugs — Colonial drug-taking”, was written by the encyclopaedia’s general editor, historian Jock Phillips.
In The Story of Suzanne Aubert, Jessie Munro wrote that “exactly what plants went into Suzanne’s medicines, and in what proportions, is no longer known”.
“She tended to guard the recipes zealously, with a certain dramatic secrecy.
“Ultimately, the recipes disappeared — lost, or more likely, as in the traditional stories, destroyed by Suzanne.”