Residents of South West Victoria might not know it, but ‘Operation Highland’ is here to stop them from getting high.
Operation Highland, which is being carried out by South West Police is targeting high-end drug-related offences in South West Victoria through a series of raids. This week, one of their most recent raids was carried out on a rural property in Portland, Victoria.
This latest raid is the 9th raid South-West police have carried out over the last month. Together, the raids have seized over $2.5 million worth of cannabis and resulted in the arrests of seven people.
During the Portland raid, over 15kgs of dried cannabis was seized. According to some of the latest cannabis prices across Australia, the value of this weed is between $22,500 and $30,000.
Interestingly, this cannabis was vacuum packed – which is commonly done to preserve the psychoactive properties in cannabis long-term, and to minimise the odour.
When dried cannabis is allowed access to sunlight and oxygen, the THCA inside converts to CBNA and CBN – which gives the smoker less of a “high” when consumed. Theoretically, vacuum-sealed cannabis could last for years at a time without decomposing.
Three unregistered guns were also seized at the Portland property and will be destroyed alongside the cannabis, which despite its careful preservation, will be set on fire and removed from this earth.
During the raid, a 47-year-old man from Gorae West was arrested on charges of firearms and cannabis trafficking. He was charged with ‘Trafficking in a Drug or Drugs Dependence’, under section 71AC of the 1981 Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act.
However, unlike the other alleged drug traffickers arrested in Operation Highland, the Gorae West man was not charged with possession in a commercial quantity, as he was only in possession of 15kgs of cannabis.
He is expected to appear in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court on Tuesday and has been denied bail. If found guilty on the cannabis charges alone, the Gorae West man faces 15 years in prison.
Funnily enough, the farmhand has denied the allegation that the drugs were for trafficking, claiming that the cannabis police seized was for his back pain. While medicines containing CBD are widely prescribed in Australia for pain management purposes, there is currently little scientific research into the effects of smoking cannabis for pain management.
On the other hand, research does tell us that a significant number of Australians with a medical cannabis prescription choose to source their cannabis illegally instead, as CBD containing medicines cost an average of $436 a month.
It may be unlikely, but it’s not completely absurd that the 15kg was for personal pain relief.