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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What’s the Real Crime? Growing Weed or Operation Lime?

Last month the police force carried out one of the largest drug raids in recent memory. It was dubbed ‘Operation Lime’. Over 250 people were arrested and around 750 charges have been laid for cannabis related offences.

What was both unique and highly disturbing about this raid was its scale and timing. Homes and businesses were raided in every police district in the country. This shows that our militarized police force has the funding and manpower to carry out extensive operations, just to stop some people growing pot.

The fact that the raids were carried out just days before this years ‘J Day’ protests (a yearly protest/celebration aiming at ending the prohibition of cannabis) shows that the police are acting in a highly politically motivated – and intimidating – manner. It is a danger for any so called ‘democracy’ to have a politicized police force… This takes the policy and debate out of the ballot box and parliament and gives it to armed thugs in the police force.

The war on drugs is being used to attack workers rights and safety. In a Southland meat works 12 workers have lost a total of 13 fingers due to lack of proper safety equipment and speed ups at the plant. However management has introduced drug testing policies to absolve itself of responsibility for upgrading safety standards. While some workers tested positive or cannabis use – it must be remembered that you can fail a drug test for cannabis for over a month after use. Drug testing – and the persecution that follows – must be opposed because it allows the bosses to target union activists and militants.

There is no doubt that cannabis is harmful to your health if you use it abusively. If you wake and bake every day for 20 years - you will fry your brain.

However who benefits from cannabis being illegal? It is the Police - with massive expanded budgets and powers that are eating away at our civil liberties. It is the lawyers and judges that get a piece of the drug busting pie. And it is the politicians that get to rant on about ‘gangs’ and ‘crime’. And it is the bosses who get to used it as a baton to intimidate and control their workers.

However throwing hundreds of people each year into prison for non violent offences does not benefit the working majority. What would help us is if cannabis was legalized, the extra police powers were stripped, and the money used to lock people away was used to help those that had problems with destructive cannabis use.

Derwin Smith, Dunedin

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