It was a tough summer for many farmers, but those who grew marijuana in Washington County put together a crop of big, healthy plants.
The heavy rains of early summer that hurt hay and corn crops in parts of the region helped pot plants grow to tall, full levels, police found when taking to the air to look for illicit crops.
Members of Washington County’s drug task force and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office were out in recent weeks to pull up plants.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Washington County was one of the biggest illegal pot-producing counties in the state. This year, police found found fewer plants than in past years, but the plants they were found were big and bountiful.
“This year the marijuana did better than the corn,” Washington County Undersheriff John Winchell said.
Winchell said officers in Washington County pulled up 1,086 plants, which was down from about 1,200 in 2016. Plots of plants were found in Argyle, Hebron, Hartford, Greenwich and White Creek, he said. Seven misdemeanor arrests for unlawfully growing cannabis were made.
The number of plants has dwindled as police have seen a trend of more people trying to grow pot indoors to evade the annual summer helicopter flights to look for plots from the air.
“We had a high of 8,000 in 2012. It has been progressively lower each year since then,” Winchell said.
Washington County officers were assisted by State Police and Army National Guard helicopters. In addition to helping police, the flights serve as training missions for pilots.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office’s Narcotics Enforcement Unit spent part of last week visiting suspected marijuana grow sites, and pulled up 180 plants at eight different locations, sheriff’s Lt. Steve Stockdale said. Arrests were pending, he said.
That total was about on par from the crop in past years, as Warren County does not have nearly the amount of farmland as neighboring Washington County does.