New Zealand police have offended some by using helicopters and planes to search for cannabis. The operation has reportedly been running for more than 20 years and is one of the largest in the world.
Police Minister Poto Williams was unaware of the change until it was reported by Stuff earlier this week. "Given the increased harm caused by other drugs, particularly methamphetamine, this is not the most appropriate use of police resources", a police spokesman told Stuff. Williams said that while it was an operational matter, he had asked for full information about the reasons for the decision.
The annual operation reportedly involves tens of thousands of installations and is being carried out in conjunction with the New Zealand Air Force, and the country's top law enforcement agencies. In October New Zealanders narrowly voted against legalizing cannabis in a referendum on the issue in their country. More than 48 percent said they supported reforming the state's laws, while 50 percent of voters opposed it.
Advocates argued that legalization would take money out of the gangs' pockets, improve access to cannabis for medical patients, and benefit indigenous Maori. In the run-up to the referendum, voters were inundated with "fear, incitement, and misinformation," Dr. David Hutton, the head of New Zealand's Drug Policy Alliance, told the Guardian. The result was a resounding success "No," he wrote in a letter to Prime Minister John Key and the country's top law enforcement officials.