Amid Legal Pot, The Search Continues For Illegal Grows

Aug 20, 2014

Legal marijuana grows are just getting started in Washington state. But it’s the illegal ones that local, state and federal agents are searching out this month.

File photo of 'guerrilla' cultivation of cannabis
Credit Wikimedia

It’s the annual summer marijuana eradication program.

Plant seizures have declined significantly in recent years. The banner year was 2009, 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 from the Washington State Patrol said illegal pot growers have changed their tactics over the years.

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

Sweet said the 5,000 plants seized so far this year were growing among corn stalks on farm land.

Sweet added 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 variety.