‘New Zealand grow shop busts good news for gangs’

New Zealand Police have charged more than 250 people after a massive crackdown on the sale of cannabis gardening equipment.

The result of the two-year undercover Operation Lime, officers swooped on 35 businesses and numerous homes across the country - including executing search warrants at all 16 branches and the distribution centre of a national supplier of indoor growing supplies.

The operation involved 500 police people, of which some posed as customers to buy clones and growing equipment.

Gardening stores allegedly involved are allowed to stay open for business with a number of arrested staff already bailed and free to work. However, the bail conditions include a number of strict purchase conditions; the name and address of the purchaser must be recorded and kept for police, as well as the type and identification number of the purchased product.

Spokes person Billy Mckee of medical cannabis support group Green Cross said that this week's raids must be ‘good news’ for gangs, but is very bad news for medical cannabis users. “By making it harder for your average person to buy hydroponic growing systems, the police have just given the black market more customers.”

Mr McKee said that Operation Lime will hit the ‘grow your own at home’ medical cannabis users the hardest – sick people who don’t want to be involved in the black market and who grow small amounts for themselves.

“It’s a very sad day when New Zealand police spend two years and enormous resources on a campaign like this trying to do the impossible - stop people using cannabis”, Mr McKee concluded.