BY CHRIS FOWLIE
Auckland drug squad members sprayed toxic poison over the township of Trypheena on Great Barrier Island, as part of the so-called cannabis eradication programme.
What’s more, they did it from a dangerously-low height of around 100 feet, at least 900 feet below the Civil Aviation Authority rules.
It happened on Sunday 3 February, the last day of the summer holidays. Around 1000 locals and holiday makers were in the township, enjoying the sunshine or waiting for the last ferry back to Auckland.
A spotter plane and helicopter hired by the police arrived on the scene and began dumping sprays of blue poison over people’s back yards, roadsides, near streams, over a caravan and over weeds of the legal variety (see photos). It seems no cannabis was sprayed.
Outraged residents convened a town meeting and unanimously condemned the operation.
The Great Barrier Community Board is laying a complaint with the Independent Police Conduct Authority, while a complaint is also being laid with the Civil Aviation Authority.
Growers forced indoors
A report by the US Justice Department says the cannabis eradication program has driven producers indoors.
The US Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) is similar to the New Zealand police’s expensive, dangerous and largely ineffective annual eradication programme. Both use planes and helicopters to uproot or spray poison on crops, and co-opt gung-ho Army and Air Force personnel and expensive hardware to help them do it.
The report notes that one side effect of shifting indoors is that “groups will produce higher-potency marijuana year-round, allowing for exponential increase in profits derived.”
The report also notes that the eradication program had not reduced availability of cannabis, and said the US cannabis market is “saturated”.
(NORML News Autumn 2008)