New Zealand Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick has doubled down on her criticism of the country’s national cannabis eradication program after police announced they had seized almost 35,000 cannabis plants in this summer’s aerial operation.
Earlier this year, Swarbrick slammed the police for budgeting NZ$635,000 for the operation, having scrapped the practice last year following a lack of interest from senior officers.
Last week, director of the national organised crime group Detective Superintendent Greg Williams said the latest campaign had netted more than 34,000 plants and 79kg of dried cannabis with a combined street value of $95 million.
He added: “The aim of the operation was squarely on commercial-scale cannabis growing and the organised crime groups behind them.”
“This was not about personal cannabis use or low-level offending. There were 123 searches executed which resulted in 80 firearms being seized, showing the very concerning link between illicit firearms and drug dealing.”
However, Swarbrick remained unimpressed, calling the operation a waste of police resources.
She told Newshub: “I invite anyone involved in this operation, any politician or commentator, to tell the public how [it] will stop cannabis — or worse, far more harmful substances, on the black market.”
“If this better part of a million-dollar cannabis operation was going to yield success in reducing consumption and drug harm, you’d think that would’ve happened at some point already in its more than 20 years of operation.
“Drugs are winning this war on drugs. The mature thing any politician can do is ask how it is that we can evidentially go about reducing the harm drugs cause.
“All signs say that is sensible regulation — ironically, that’s the only way to meaningfully start squeezing out the very criminal organisation of supply the police are concerned with.”