Program eradicates marijuana plants

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:03 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More than 10,000 cultivated marijuana plants and 4.5 million wild ones were eradicated in 2005 as part of a state program, according to a news release Monday from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Law enforcement agencies made 450 related arrests, the release said.

Operation Cash Crop was begun in the 1980s, said Lt. Tim Hull of the patrol’s public information and education division. Funded in part by federal grant money, the operation draws in law enforcement agencies from across the state including the Missouri National Guard and local law enforcement officials. Different organizations become involved as they are needed, depending on the location of the plants and whether officials are already conducting surveillance of an area, Hull said.

He said the passage of time has made finding wild marijuana especially important because of the high THC content built up in it. The transportation of hemp rope during one of the world wars resulted in marijuana’s proliferation along railroad tracks and ditches, Hull said.

“It’ll grow just about anywhere in Missouri,” Hull said, but an especially large quantity grows in the northwest part of the state. Forests in the state also contain marijuana plants, he said. Once the plants have been gathered, they are incinerated.

Information about plants can be reported anonymously to law enforcement by calling 800-223-9333.

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