Choppers help locate pot plants

Multiple helicopter sightings around Kaua‘i on Thursday were described by Kaua‘i Police Department and Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources officials as part of a green harvest operation designed to eradicate marijuana plants.

DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward said yesterday that the operation, which was undertaken earlier in the week, was not continued yesterday and therefore had been completed.

Ward said that Gary Moniz, enforcement chief for the DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement, could not yet comment on the scope or results of the operation and would be releasing an after-action report at some point next week.

KPD Assistant Chief Roy Asher confirmed that the KPD assisted the DLNR in the operation, and that the two organizations often “take turns” using aircraft to corral marijauna crops.

Operation Green Harvest is part of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program, which partners federal, state and local governments.

A similar three-day operation in July 2002 yielded nearly 10,000 marijuana plants but resulted in no arrests.

The operation comes on the heels of a report from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the National Institute on Drug Abuse that claims U.S. marijuana contains record levels of THC, the drug’s main psychoactive substance.

According to the report, based on the University of Mississippi’s Potency Monitoring Project, the average amount of tetrahydrocannabinol has reached a new high of 9.6 percent, compared to just under 4 percent in 1995 and roughly 8 percent as recently as two years ago.

• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or mlevine@kauaipubco.com

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