Chlöe Swarbrick wants aerial cannabis raids scrapped

Source: Q and A

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick is calling for aerial cannabis raids to be scrapped, after revealing internal police documents that question whether the raids reduce drug harm.

In reports released under the Official Information Act, police say they are unable to point to evidence of harm reduction, and can only claim modest success in reducing cannabis supply.

The helicopter raids were scrapped last year, but some districts restarted them this year.

Internally, district commanders are divided on whether the raids are a worthwhile use of resources, with Waitematā District Commander superintendent Naila Hassan saying, “we don’t see any worthwhile benefit to this operation being run in our district.”

Swarbrick said it was another example of “drugs winning the war on drugs”.

“Sending police up in these choppers and deploying these resources across a number of districts in this country is a suck on resources that could be better used in other parts of the country where there’s still illegality going on,” said Swarbrick.

“We’ve been doing this for 20 plus years now, and in fact we’ve seen an increase in the use of cannabis.”

The MP is a prominent advocate for legalising cannabis, shepherding through the referendum at the 2020 election, which was narrowly defeated.

She said despite drugs still being illegal, efforts against them should focus primarily on reducing harm, and pointed to the success of Te Ara Oranga, a programme aimed at providing health and social service interventions for meth users.

Swarbrick called on the Government to continue pushing on drug reform, rather than treating it as a criminal matter under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

“It is incumbent on the Government, on our new Minister of Justice Kiri Allan, to change the law into something that works, because what the police are working with is a dog of legislation.”