Police have been accused of inflating the value of cannabis plants seized during annual helicopter raids, and of taking ‘medicine’ away from sick people.
NSW Police issued a media release this week saying that $20 million worth of cannabis plants had been seized during the 2015/16 ‘Cannabis Eradication Program’.
Police seized plants in the Richmond, Mid North Coast, Manning Great Lakes, Tweed/Byron and Coffs/Clarence local area commands.
Police said the total number of cannabis plants seized during program this year was 10,705, with an estimated potential street value of $21.4 million.
Nimbin Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said the figures were unrealistic.
‘The police trot out the same old very tired lines that surely need a rewrite,’ he said.
‘Like, “that’s $20 million dollars that won’t be boosting the profits of drug dealers and thousands of cannabis plants that won’t be sold in the community”.
‘For a start every seedling is valued at $2,000 and as we know the male plants are worthless, kangaroos eat some, the wet may rot half of the rest, or its eaten by grubs or two legged pests steal it, and so on.
‘These police are clearly not gardeners and these twisted statistics are only to justify their funding for next season’s raids I suspect.
‘Time to review this waste of money Mr Premier.’
Commander of the Drug Squad, detective superintendent Tony Cooke, said the cannabis eradication program was ‘a key component of the NSW Police Force’s efforts to remove illicit drugs from the community and target criminals who profit from peddling those drugs.’
‘The cultivation of cannabis is a crime and we make no apologies for targeting an illicit drug and those who knowingly break the law by growing or supplying it,’ det supt Cooke said.
‘All illicit drugs cause immeasurable harm in our community and we will continue to use this program and a suite of other strategies to target drug supply.’
But Mr Balderstone said the police were creating problems for people using cannabis as medicine.
‘Those people will be spending their cash for the next year on buying their medicine of choice and actually boosting the profits of drug dealers who must love the annual raids which ensure their indoor chemically enhanced hydroponic pot keeps dominating the market place.
‘Do the police realise taking peoples’ medicine puts a huge hole in one’s weekly income? ‘Often it’s the kids who miss out when a family’s weed is taken.
‘Why do they think so many pot smokers are poor? If you can’t grow your own it’s a very expensive medicine, considering we could all grow our own in the backyard if only we were allowed.’
Mr Balderstone said on one hand the government was keen to investigate medical cannabis, while on the other it was fighting the people already supplying it.
‘If only the new respect for cannabis’s medical properties stretched a bit to include the actual users of the medicine we might start getting somewhere but the police banter is all the same tired old press releases word for word … the same for years it seems.
‘Like, “all illicit drugs cause immeasurable harm in our community”. Yeah right, tell that to those thousands of epileptics now seizure free.’
Ironic that the government allow terminally ill patients to source cannabis without police reprisal, but at the same time spend millions destroying cannabis that these patients need.
This is not a "War on drugs" it's a war on the terminally ill!
The following article is sourced from the Echo NetDaily
As part of the NSW government’s seemingly endless war on a plant with proven medicinal benefits, NSW police took control of the Mullumbimby Showgrounds on Thursday and Friday. The police based a helicopter on the grounds, along with personnel for the Byron Shire annual ‘cannabis eradication’ festivity.
Harry, the Mullumbimby Showgrounds manager, told The Echo that police did not previously advise of their intention, or ask if they could use the grounds.
$1.5m plants seized
While costings on the operation are unavailable, police claim that more than $1.5 million worth of cannabis plants were seized. They say a total of 759 plants were found, with a potential street value of $1,518,000. That values each plant at $2,000, regardless of its size.
Additionally, no one was charged. Police say the helicopter searched Main Arm, Skyline Road, Palmwoods, Mullumbimby and Koonyum Ranges.
And while police say the plants were destroyed on Friday, February 12, there is no confirmation of that claim from an independent body.
The Echo asked NSW police media why they did not ask permission for use of the showgrounds and what legislation they are operating under to use Crown land without permission. There was no reply by deadline.
Reserve Trust committee member and Byron Shire councillor Duncan Dey (Greens) told The Echo he was unaware the police used the grounds and said that he understood that Crown lands could only be used in emergency situations.
- Hans Lovejoy
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