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April 19, 2021

Police target region’s cannabis growers

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A police helicopter winches cannabis plants. (supplied)
A police helicopter winches cannabis plants. (supplied)

Darren Coyne

Police are targeting northern rivers cannabis growers despite warnings that sick and dying people across the country will miss out on their ‘medicine’.

Users of medicinal cannabis have told Echonetdaily that it is a constant struggle to source good quality ‘bush’ cannabis to produce the tinctures used to treat conditions ranging from epilepsy to chronic pain.

Police announced today that they have seized cannabis with an estimated potential street value of $5 million during the latest round of raids.

Cannabis plants being winched up by the police chopper. (supplied)
Cannabis plants being winched up by the police chopper. (supplied)

Detectives from the drug squad were joined by local police and Polair this week.

Areas targeted included bushland near The Channon, Nimbin, Broken Head, Tuntable Falls, Lennox Head, Ballina, Suffolk Park, Teven, Whian Whian, Terania Creek, Fernleigh and Wardell.

Police said more than 2,500 cannabis plants, many of which were more than a metre tall, were seized by police and would be destroyed today.

‘Three people were stopped and spoken to by police and will be issued court attendance notices for the offence of cultivate prohibited plant,’ police said.

‘Inquiries into those responsible for a number of other crop sites are continuing.

Echonetdaily understands that up to 200 plants were seized from a property on Broken Head yesterday (Thursday, February 12).

Meanwhile, police have also been busy drug-testing drivers as part of Operation Saturation.

The drug bus has been stationed in Lismore, Casino and outside Nimbin in the past week, with 11 people detected in Lismore. Results are not yet available for the other centres.

Nimbin Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said police were out of touch with public opinion on the issue of cannabis use, especially for medicinal purposes.

‘Raiding hippy communities for personal use cannabis is a waste of everyone’s money and time,’ Mr Balderstone said.

‘And with all the publicity that medicinal cannabis has received in recent times, more and more people are coming to Nimbin looking for medicine.

‘Ninety per cent of weed is grown hydroponically by organized crime in warehouses yet they continue to target small growers here on the north coast.

‘They (the police helicopter) were hanging over Tuntable Falls school the other day and they have been trashing people’s gardens to rip out plants.

Others have complained of having their privacy invaded and their young children woken up by the police helicopter buzzing their properties.

A Channon resident, who doesn’t use cannabis, said she walked out of her home naked and felt violated when the police helicopter suddenly appeared over the trees line.

‘I have nothing here yet they have the right to invade my property?!? WTF. I hate our government with its invasion of our human and civil rights,’ she said.

Mr Balderstone said the constant harassment of Nimbin by the Sydney-based drug squad made it very difficult for local police to have a good relationship with the community.

Medicinal cannabis advocate Tony Bower, whose company supplies children with tinctures for epilepsy, has told Echonetdaily that supplies could run out unless an amnesty against growers was considered.

Mr Baldestone agreed.

‘With the election next month all major political parties are saying they support medicinal cannabis so you would think they would have the smarts to do something better with their limited budgets,’ he said.

‘It’s quite simple. Just license some growers and then we can test their products.

‘Ice is the real drama because people who can’t get cannabis are turning to heavier drugs or synthetic cannabis products which have been shown to be harmful.’

As for the drug testing of drivers, Mr Balderstone said it was just another bullying tactic.

‘There was recently another report from America showing that unless you’ve just smoked a joint there is no evidence that your driving is impaired,’ he said.

Echonetdaily has reported Lismore magistrates Jeff Linden and David Heilpern making similar observations regarding the impairment issue.

‘I have heard that it costs $50 a test and that ex police are involved in the company that has the contract to supply these expensive tests,’ Mr Balderstone said.

Northern Rivers Hemp Association president Andrew Kavasilas told Echonetdaily that the cannabis eradication program was a 25-year-old strategy that hasn’t worked.

‘There’s no big crops being grown around here. We’re like a moonshine village because most pot is grown close to the city in warehouses,’ he said.

Mr Kavasilas said a full judicial inquiry was needed to examine the use of cannabis as medicine, coupled with an amnesty.

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  1. The problem with marijuana is that anyone can grow it.
    That means it’s hard for the corrupt politicians, the corrupt police and the organised criminal groups to get their cut.
    And because it is grown by non-criminals, targeting the young, old and peaceful suits the bullying mentality that is pervasive in the police force.
    There is no doubt that ice is by far the most dangerous, addictive and violent illegal drug in Australia but it is made by organised crime groups who are either too smart for the average cop or too well connected.
    If the drug squad and similar police really want to be heroes, tell your superiors and your supervising politicians what an intelligent person already knows, the war on marijuana is a waste of time, effort and money and you’d rather spend your time catching real criminals.
    Anyone brave enough?
    D Harper

  2. This is unbelievable!!! Why don’t the bloody cops get rid of the frickin’ ICE off the streets!!!!! I am so angry and frustrated by this police behaviour!!!! What to do!!??

  3. And I thought those helicopters over suffolk park / broken head were to look for sharks and save peoples lives… but of course no… it’s to loot, spy and destroy the lives of many people suffering and choosing (that’s right, remember choice) not to go the pharmaceutical way.

  4. Meanwhile. Young people are getting addicted to ice and beating people up, abusing those they love, robbing and losing their minds and soul. Clearly cops are not interested in the drug that is ruining lives.

  5. The madness continues … it’ll just keep the prices high ! If you’d told me in the 70’s that this was still going on in 2015 I wouldn’t have believed you.

    • My thoughts are with yous all . The amount of people out there that need this type of drug for medical purposes an also recreation makes me sick thinking ,Mr Don…Keys when are you going to wake up to the real world , hey dummy there’s real big rewards off this stuff .actually I don’t smoke but I’d rather people on herb than alcohol an ice an all that other heavy crap that make people go violent to other people ,women an kids

  6. 11 drug detections in Lismore, but no statistics available for the other locations?
    That the “drug bus” was in Nimbin twice this week, but no figures are “available” seems a convenient way to hide the unjustifiable allocation of excess resources to such a small village of (mostly) low income families.
    I believe the figures were with-held rather than unavailable…
    This continuing harassment of Nimbin is damaging our international tourist industry, (one of the most popular destinations in the State).

    Can we evolve now?

  7. Good comments. Nothing like a bit of oppression to help people see the illegitimate nature of power in white australia. The rum core rules.


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