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South Australia Cannabis Growing Capital Of Oz

South Australia has been portrayed as Australia's cannabis-growing capital in a major police report. John Howard reports.

The Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence (ABCI)report, released yesterday, has also predicted the tightening of South Australia's cannabis laws is unlikely to have any effect of the State's flourishing trade.

"Decriminalisation of the possession on minor amounts of cannabis in the State has resulted in an increase in cannabis exports," the bureau's Australian Illicit Drug report 1998-99 says.

"South Australian police report that subsantial amounts of cannabis are being transported interstate."

"Syndicated cannabis-cultivating groups continue to operate in South Australia. These groups are reported to be growing the legislated maximum amount of cannabis plants that do not attract criminal sanctions," the report says.

In South Australia a person can grow up to three cannabis plants and be given only an on-the-spot fine, rather than face criminal charges.

The maximum number of plants was reduced from nine to three last year to stop syndicates growing networks of small crops.

However, the ABCI report predicts the switch to the three plant rule will fail.

Police in NSW also report cannabis was regularly being found hidden in vehicles travelling from South Australia with some hidden in specially designed false sections and in some legitimate trucking operator vehicles.

Cannabis was also exported to other states by post, in freight and with air passengers.

Recently, police arrested a number of people allegedly involved in a large-scale cannabis-cultivation syndicate based in South Australia.

The ABCI also examined trends with other illicit drugs and found the numbers of people arrested for heroin offences in South Australia had increased from 192 in 1997-98 to 340 in 1998-99.

The report also found cocaine had become more readily available in Adelaide.

Meanwhile, in some States of the United States cannabis production is said to be a larger agriculture commodity than any other primary produce.

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