Police in New Zealand have budgeted more than $600,000 for a national cannabis eradication program — a year after the operation was canceled, Stuff reports. Officials had quietly ended the practice in January 2021, saying that the leaders of the nation’s 12 police districts no longer backed the program.
According to the report, six police districts are participating in the revived eradication operation. The other six districts indicated they would continue managing local cannabis eradication as needed and are not participating in the nationally coordinated effort.
According to a briefing of the program outlined by Stuff, the action, dubbed Operation Emerald, began in January and will run until next month.
“Running a nationally coordinated operation provides efficiencies in terms of negotiating a fixed-wing plane and helicopter contracts, deploying staff, provision of training for staff, and administration of the budget.” — ‘Operation Emerald’ briefing via Stuff
The initial operating budget for the eradication program was $575,000 and would come out of police’s baseline funding. The budget has since increased to $635,000 due to increased costs, a police spokesperson told Stuff.
Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick said the only “successful bust” lawmakers have heard about from the program was of three plants grown by a couple in Coromandel. The homeowner told Stuff that police flew a helicopter over their property and spayed their plants while they were eating dinner. The individual said the money budgeted by police for the eradication program would have been better spent on criminals doing real harm … [instead of] medical growers and very small scale one or two plant growers causing little or no harm.”
Swarbrick said that the program has been around since the 1980s.
“Its failure is so profound that even cheerleaders of prohibition can’t see the irony in their argument that cannabis is now far stronger than it ever used to be — precisely because of these actions, which continue to push cannabis production and consumption underground into unregulated spaces,” she told Stuff.
Get daily cannabis business news updates. Subscribe