Pubdate: Thu, 10 Apr 2008
Source: Timaru Herald (New Zealand)
Copyright: 2008 Timaru Herald
Bookmark: (Marijuana)


An illicit tax-free $2 million won't be circulating in South
Canterbury thanks to cannabis policing this summer which has removed
almost 2000 plants from the Mid South Canterbury region - a similar
result to last year.

In late February police held a three day aerial search with an Air
Force Iroquois helicopter. This operation uncovered 1200 plants.

Flying six hours a day suitable growing areas, including river beds,
between the Rakaia and Waitaki rivers were covered.

The search is part of a national marijuana recovery

The officer in charge, sergeant Graham Sharp, said other police work
took nearly another 800 plants out.

He said taking 2000 plants out of the drug supply was significant for
the region. It represented a lot of money potentially as the police
estimate a plant is worth about $1000.

Mr Sharp said the condition and development of the plants varied
greatly. Some were small, while others had thrived during the hot dry

The largest plots discovered had upwards of 100 plants and a couple of
these larger plots were located close together. The police have made
two arrests since the aerial search.

Despite the weather cooling off Mr Sharp expects there will still be
cannabis growing outdoors.

Mr Sharp said there has been a decline in the cannabis found in recent
years - a decade ago up to 7000 plants were found during the season.

He said one of the reasons for the decline was the conviction of a
number of large-scale growers.
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