WA police discover massive cannabis farming operation

By @chelean on
Cannabis (4)
Cannabis plants are seen in a greenhouse of Swiss cannabis producer KannaSwiss in Koelliken, Switzerland March 20, 2017. Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

More than 7,000 plants of cannabis growing in 14 commercial-scale greenhouses were seized by West Australian police on Friday. Organised crime squad detectives have discovered a massive cannabis-growing operation on a 19-hectare property in Red Gully near Gingin.

Taskforce Silverdrift officers had dismantled the property after finding the 14 greenhouses. They have also destroyed all seized cannabis. However, they did not find a single person when they arrived at the property.

“The scale and sophistication of this operation was significant and led police to seize more than 7,500 cannabis plant,” Senior Sergeant Michael Rowson said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s obviously linked to organised crime.”

Operators of the cannabis farm did not seem to be worried about authorities finding their operation, though. The greenhouses, according to police, were in plain sight of the road.

“It wasn’t hidden at all, you could see the structures from the road,” Rowson said. “We had no idea how big the scale was until we got onto the property.”

The police have apparently suspected the greenhouses for months, though they would not say what led them to the property. Detectives, forensics and other specialists have spent the weekend dismantling the operation.

Investigations are ongoing.

In Australia, medical cannabis is legal but with restrictions. Some states require prescription from doctors under certain conditions. In WA, possession of more than 10g of cannabis can mean a fine of $2,000 and/or two years in jail. Cultivation of cannabis in WA is legal for medicinal or scientific purposes under a national licensing scheme. However, this does not mean a person can grow their own medical cannabis themselves or smoke cannabis without medical prescription as it is still a highly regulated drug.