Pubdate: Thu, 16 Mar 2000
Source: Advertiser, The (Australia)
Author: Jeremy Pudney


SOUTH Australia has been portrayed as the nation's cannabis-growing capital
in a major police report.The Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence
report, released yesterday, has also predicted the tightening of SA's
cannabis laws is unlikely to have any effect on the state's flourishing trade.

"Decriminalisation of the possession of minor amounts of cannabis in South
Australia has resulted in an increase in cannabis exports," the bureau's
Australian Illicit Drug Report 1998-99 says.

"South Australia Police reports that substantial amounts of cannabis... are
being transported interstate.

"Syndicated cannabis-cultivating groups continue to operate in South
Australia. These groups are reported to be growing the legislated maximum
amount of cannabis plants that does not attract criminal sanctions."

In SA, a person can grow up to three cannabis plants and be given only an
on-the-spot fine, rather than facing criminal charges.

The maximum number of plants was reduced from nine to three last June to
stop syndicates growing networks of small crops.

However, the ABCI report predicts the switch to the three-plant rule will

It reveals that during 1998-99:

NEW South Wales crime agencies arrested a number of people allegedly
involved in a "large-scale cannabis-cultivation syndicate based in South

POLICE in NSW also reported cannabis was regularly being found hidden in
vehicles travelling from SA.

Some had specially designed "false sections" and some "legitimate trucking
operators" were involved.

CANNABIS was exported from SA to other states by post, in freight and with
air passengers.

WESTERN Australian police reported that in one case a SA cannabis-growing
"specialist" had gone to WA to assist with two large crops.

The Olsen Government and police declined to comment on the drug report,
saying they had not had time to examine its findings.

The bureau report also examined trends with other illicit drugs and found
the number of people arrested for heroin offences in SA had increased from
192 in 1997-98 to 340 in 1998-99.

The report found cocaine had become more readily available in Adelaide.
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