Thursday, September 08, 2011


The police are trumpeting their latest triumph in the war on drugs:

More than 300 people have been arrested in a two-month crackdown on drug houses.

Police carried out 301 search warrants as part of Operation Localise, a nationally coordinated operation focusing on "tinnie houses" - those where cannabis is sold.

They made 311 arrests, seized 32.2kg of cannabis and 139g of methamphetamine.

So, let me get this straight: they executed three hundred search warrants to get thirty kilograms of cannabis. And they're proud of this?

According to the UN [PDF], the street price of cannabis is around $6.50 a gram. The Drug Harm Index [PDF] gives its social harm of $12,000 a kilogram, most of which consists of the opportunity cost of production. A bit of simple maths shows that we're looking at around $1,850 of harm per warrant. Throw in the P (at $1,000 per gram, plus $400/gram of social harm) and we're talking about $2,500 per warrant.

Executing that warrant, with the presence of multiple officers, legal costs, planning, tagging and bagging everything, costs thousands of dollars. You don't need to be a genius to see that this is at best a marginal economic proposition, and most likely pissing money down a bottomless pit.

But I guess the police need something to do with their time. Otherwise, they'd probably be trying to stitch people up for "terrorism".

Update: I've added in the value of the P seized. Its still madness. Overall, the police probably blew about a million dollars on this operation, and all to seize ~$350,000 of drugs and avert ~450,000 of social harm.