National demands answers after police drop annual operation to find cannabis grows

National has spoken out against police's axing of its "one-size-fits-all" annual aerial national cannabis operation — with MP Simeon Brown calling it an "unacceptable" decision to make without informing Police Minister Poto Williams.

Cannabis - generic. Source: Seven Sharp

It was revealed this week police decided to move away from the model, with police describing the approach as no longer representing "the most appropriate deployment of police resources".

However, Stuff reported Williams was not aware of the matter yesterday. 

"While we recognise methamphetamine is an issue, so is cannabis use," Brown said. "New Zealanders will rightly want to know why police made the decision to quietly drop the operation and how they’ll continue to tackle issues around supply of cannabis," Brown said. 

"New Zealanders voted to reject the legalisation of cannabis. It’s an illegal drug and it causes significant harm in our communities."

The 2020 referendum saw a result of 50.7 per cent against cannabis legalisation and 48.4 per cent in favour. 

A police spokesperson said they use a range of options to target production, manufacture and distribution of illicit drugs.

"With the increased harm in many communities arising from other drugs, particularly methamphetamine, a one-size-fits-all annual aerial national cannabis operation no longer represents the most appropriate deployment of police resources."

The spokesperson said the supply of cannabis remained a focus for police and there was still funding available to support finding cannabis plantations. 

"The decision to spread resources throughout the year, and increase surveillance focus on the drugs causing the greatest harm in the community, does not mean that police across the country will not investigate and prosecute people engaged in the commercial cultivation of cannabis."

1 NEWS was told by a spokesperson for Williams that decisions on policing resources were independent matters and she has requested a briefing on the cannabis operations.