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Amid Legal Pot, The Search Continues For Illegal Grows

File photo of 'guerrilla' cultivation of cannabis
File photo of 'guerrilla' cultivation of cannabis

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
File photo of 'guerrilla' cultivation of cannabis

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.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

Austin Jenkins
Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."