Amid Legal Pot, The Search Continues For Illegal Grows

Aug 21, 2014

Legal marijuana grows are just getting started in Washington. But it’s the illegal ones that local, state and federal agents are searching out this month. It’s the annual summer marijuana eradication program. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins reports plant seizures have declined significantly in recent years.

A 'guerilla' cultivation of cannabis.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The banner year was 2009. That’s when more than 600,000 illegally grown marijuana plants were seized on public and private lands in Washington. By last year that number had plummeted to about 40,000 plants seized. Oregon and Idaho have also seen a drop off. Lt. Chris Sweet is with the Washington State Patrol. He says illegal pot growers have changed their tactics over the years.

Sweet: “The grows are now less plant count, they’re planted more sporadically and they’re harder to find.”

Sweet says the 5,000 plants seized so far this year were growing among corn stalks on farm land. Sweet adds that as tips come in about marijuana growing on private property they now work with the Liquor Control Board to first determine if it’s the licensed, legal stuff.

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