Cheese growing going strong thanks to lack of November Rain
Criminals are taking advantage of the current ideal growing conditions and planting marijuana crops early, say police.
Cannabis growing season typically kicks off in November and lasts until around April, but perfect weather has seen Northland police already confiscate and destroy 350 plants from a major plantation north of Kaitaia.
Northland's warm bushland areas are great for cannabis crops, with NZME reporting nearly 35,000 plants destroyed last growing season in the region alone.
While cannabis may be seen as a lesser of two evils when compared to hard drugs such as methamphetamine ('P'), Detective Sergeant Shane Pilmer of the Northland Police Organised Crime Squad told Newshub it still leads to significant harm.
"There's an incredible amount of social harm caused by cannabis use, particularly to families... the impact on families is massive."
Sergeant Pilmer says the tell-tale signs of cannabis growing in rural areas include discarded packaging in unusual places, people carrying water containers into the bush and unexplained lights on at night. He also said to take notice of any unfamiliar vehicles parked on roads.
He advises caution if someone comes across a cannabis crop, saying the grower likely won't appreciate trespassers and may lay traps around the perimeter.
Sergeant Pilmer says the public plays a major role in helping police during drug growing season, and should contact Crime Stoppers with as much information as possible if they notice any suspicious activity.