Two United States snowboarders - one of whom is believed to
be a former Winter Olympics medallist - who were charged with
possession of cannabis in Wanaka have completed diversion.
The pair were stopped by police during a random
breath-alcohol check on August 1 and were found to be in
possession of cannabis.
Both men, aged in their 20s, were in New Zealand as tourists
and were due to appear in the Queenstown District Court
However, Senior Constable Chris Blackford, of Queenstown,
said the men completed the diversion process on Thursday and
were granted name suppression.
Snr Const Blackford said the amount of cannabis the pair had
was "less than half of presumption".
"Under the Misuse of Drugs Act there's a presumption - if
anyone has more than a certain weight, 28g, then you're
deemed to be a dealer.
"In this case they had less than half of that between the two
of them, so it's reasonable to suggest it was for personal
use, as they had said."
Snr Const Blackford said the pair were "entitled to be
treated the same as anybody else" and was not aware either of
them were anything more than "a couple of American
"It would be totally inappropriate for me to deal with people
on the basis of who they are.
"I have to deal with people on the basis of what they've done
"They were dealt with exactly the same way as anybody else
would have been dealt with."
The diversion process enables first-time offenders who meet
certain criteria to pay an amount of money to a charity.
By doing so, they can avoid having a conviction entered
against their name.
Snr Const Blackford said he was unable to divulge how much
the men were required to pay, or which charity benefited.