How cannabis fits in the crime picture

How cannabis fits in the crime picture

Howard Broad, Police Commissioner

A major crime and cannabis operation came to a close last week in the Bay of Plenty.
During the 2-week operation, 172 search warrants were executed at addresses across the police district, resulting in 115 arrests and the destruction of several thousand cannabis plants.
I sometimes hear arguments that Police shouldn't put so much time and effort into cannabis - that the drug causes a lot less violence and destruction than methamphetamine or even legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol.
The easy response is to say Police enforce the law. So long as it's an illegal drug we have an obligation to disrupt its illicit cultivation, distribution and sale.
More to the point, the results of this operation show that many people involved in large-scale cannabis cultivation are part of organised criminal networks where cannabis is just part of the picture.
During the Bay of Plenty operation, police also

  • located a number of firearms, including pistols, sawn-off shotguns and rifles
  • recovered over $60,000 worth of stolen property, including vehicles, trailers and generators
  • assisted the Ministry of Justice recover more than $100,000 in outstanding fines
  • discovered and confiscated methamphetamine.

Police constantly see the wide-reaching impact of the cannabis trade in their work. This goes beyond the individual user and into other areas of crime such as burglary, stolen cars, intimidation and serious violence including homicide.
It affects road policing, as people under the influence of cannabis have an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes.
It affects police who work with our young people - in 2009, over 1500 children were identified at scenes where cannabis was seized.

It affects our focus on organised crime, because the two are so interlinked. As long as that focus continues, the distribution of illicit drugs - including cannabis - will be an important part of our work.

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