Category Archives: KENTUCKY WEED

Kentucky Cops Confiscate $600k In Marijuana & Brag About It


 

Published on Aug 9, 2016

Deputies in Grayson County, Kentucky found more than $600,000 worth of marijuana hidden in a corn field, confiscated it and then left a note stuck in the corn leaves letting the growers know about it. Deputies then started the hashtag #WeGotYoWeed in a Facebook post to taunt the growers…
Read More At:
http://www.rawstory.com/2016/08/kentu…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rQv8LepIvk

Kentucky approves 12,800 acres for hemp planting in 2017, tripling the previous year’s figures


Growers must pass background check

WCPO Staff

6:46 AM, Jan 6, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) has approved 209 applications from growers who have been approved to cultivate up to 12,800 acres of industrial hemp for research purposes in 2017, nearly tripling the number of acres that were approved for 2016. More than 525,000 square feet of greenhouse space were approved for indoor growers in 2017.

“By nearly tripling hemp acreage in 2017 and attracting more processors to the state, we are significantly growing opportunities for Kentucky farmers,” said Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, in a news release. “Our strategy is to use KDA’s research pilot program to encourage the industrial hemp industry to expand and prosper in Kentucky. Although it is not clear when Congress might act to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, my strategic objective is to position the commonwealth’s growers and processors to ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production.”

The KDA received a total of 252 applications – 234 grower applications and 18 processor/handler applications. Applicants were asked to identify which harvestable component of the plant would be the focus of their research (floral material, grain, or fiber); some applicants selected more than one component.

In addition to grower applications, KDA approved 11 new applications from processors (in addition to 29 previously approved multi-year processor applications that were not required to reapply). Five universities will also carry out additional research projects in 2017. KDA officials cited the recent decline in commodity prices as one factor that appears to be generating increased interest among Kentucky’s farmers in industrial hemp and other alternative crops.

In 2016, 137 growers were approved to plant up to 4,500 acres. Program participants planted more than 2,350 acres of hemp in 2016, up from 922 acres in 2015 and 33 acres in 2014.

To strengthen KDA’s partnership with state and local law enforcement officers, KDA will provide GPS coordinates of approved industrial hemp planting sites to law enforcement agencies before any hemp is planted. GPS coordinates were required to be submitted on the application. Participants also must pass background checks and consent to allow program staff and law enforcement officers to inspect any premises where hemp or hemp products are being grown, handled, stored or processed.

“We have made collaboration and communication with the law enforcement community a top priority for KDA’s management of this research pilot program,” Quarles said.

Staff with the KDA’s industrial hemp research pilot program evaluated the applications and considered whether returning applicants had complied with instructions from KDA, Kentucky State Police and local law enforcement. To promote transparency and ensure a fair playing field, KDA relied on objective criteria, outlined in the 2017 Policy Guide, to evaluate applications.

The KDA operates its program under the authority of a provision of the 2014 federal farm bill, 7 U.S.C. § 5940, that permits industrial hemp pilot programs in states where hemp production is permitted by state law. For more information and to view the 2017 Policy Guide, please visit the website here.

CONTINUE READING…

Kentucky Bill Would Legalize Medical Marijuana, Take Step to Nullify Federal Prohibition


FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 13, 2016) – A Kentucky Senate bill slated for introduction in 2017 would legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients in the state, effectively nullifying the unconstitutional federal prohibition on the same.

Pre-filed by Sen. Perry B. Clark (D-Louisville), BR409 would “protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their practitioners and providers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture, if such patients engage in the medical use of cannabis.” The bill will be considered by the Kentucky State Senate during the 2017 legislative session.

Patients would be able to qualify for medical marijuana if they suffered from one of the following ailments listed in BR409:

A terminal illness, peripheral neuropathy, anorexia, cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, substance use disorder, mood disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, muscular dystrophy, post-traumatic stress disorder, diabetes, sleep disorder, fibromyalgia, autism, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, Tourette syndrome, anxiety disorder, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or the treatment of these conditions

Medical marijuana patients would be allowed to designate a caregiver under BR409, which would permit another individual the legal authority to grow the plant on behalf of the qualifying patient. Dispensaries, called “compassion centers” in BR409, would be permitted to operate as well provided that they comply with the tax and regulatory structure established under the legislation.

“Most of my life we have expended tax dollars pursuing a ban on a plant,” Sen. Clark said in a WKYT news report from earlier this year. “Wasted dollars, they were. We have exponentially increased the power and scope of our criminal justice system by strapping it with issues concerning a plant.”

Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as SB409 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.

LEGALITY

The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 prohibits all of this behavior. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

Legalization of medical marijuana in Kentucky would remove a huge layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.

FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, Kentucky sweeps away much of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

A GROWING MOVEMENT

With passage of SB409, Kentucky would join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis. California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts are set to join them after voters approved ballot initiatives in favor of legalization last November.

With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.

“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.

WHAT’S NEXT?

BR409 will need to be formally introduced and pass its committee assignments before it can be considered by the full Senate. Stay in touch with our Tenther Blog and our Tracking and Action Center for the latest updates.

CONTINUE READING…

A Kentucky-based hemp seed grower is the first company to have its seeds approved and officially certified by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.


 

 

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Blair Miller

DENVER – A Kentucky-based hemp seed grower is the first company to have its seeds approved and officially certified by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Lexington, Kentucky-based Schiavi Seeds LLC had three separate seed varieties certified as CDA Approved Certified Seeds under the new program, which aims to promote hemp agriculture in the state.

CDA has worked with CSGA and Colorado State University over the past several months to breed plants that produce seeds under the 0.3 percent THC content threshold to qualify as hemp and not psychoactive marijuana.

Varying seed types were grown and tested in trials in different parts of the state in order to find ideal conditions for hemp cultivation.

Colorado law requires industrial hemp seeds to contain less than 0.3 percent THC. Three trial seeds from Schiavi Seeds – Eletta Campana, Fibranova and Helena – passed trial tests and were accepted by the state Seed Growers Association’s review board.

CDA says seeds submitted by Fort Collins-based New West Genetics have also passed the THC trial, but still have to be accepted by the review board before they can also be labeled as a CDA Approved Certified Seed.

Congress approved hemp production in 2014, but a state certification like Colorado’s is necessary to raise the crop.

Colorado farmers will be able to start buying and growing the seeds next year.

CONTINUE READING…

KY: Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program now taking applications for 2017


Image result for KENTUCKY HEMP

New measures set to enable sustained growth of the program

FRANKFORT (October 11, 2016) Kentuckians interested in participating in the industrial hemp research pilot program in 2017 are invited to submit an application with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

“The pilot research program will continue to build on the successes of the previous administration by developing research data on industrial hemp production, processing, manufacturing, and marketing for Kentucky growers,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. KDA’s objective is to expand and strengthen Kentucky’s research pilot program, so that if the federal government chooses to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances, Kentucky’s growers and farmers will be positioned to thrive, prosper and ultimately prevail as national leaders in industrial hemp production.”

The KDA operates its program under the authority of a provision of the 2014 federal farm bill, 7 U.S.C. § 5940 that permits industrial hemp pilot programs in states where hemp production is permitted by state law. Participants planted more than 2,350 acres of hemp in 2016 compared with 922 acres in 2015 and 33 acres in 2014, the first year of the program.

Applicants should be aware of important new measures for the 2017 research program, including the following:

· To strengthen the department’s partnership with state and local law enforcement officers, KDA will provide GPS coordinates of approved industrial hemp planting sites to law enforcement agencies before any hemp is planted. GPS coordinates must be submitted on the application. Applicants must consent to allow program staff and law enforcement officers to inspect any premises where hemp or hemp products are being grown, handled, stored, or processed.

· To promote transparency and ensure a fair playing field, KDA will rely on objective criteria, outlined in the newly released 2017 Policy Guide, to evaluate applications. An applicant’s criminal background check must indicate no drug-related misdemeanor convictions, and no felony convictions of any kind, in the past 10 years. Staff with the KDA’s industrial hemp pilot project program will consider whether applicants have complied with instructions from the department, Kentucky State Police, and local law enforcement.

· As the research program continues to grow, KDA’s hemp staff needs additional resources and manpower to administer this tremendously popular program. The addition of participant fees will enable KDA Hemp Staff to handle an increasing workload without needing additional taxpayer dollars from the General Assembly. Program applicants will be required to submit a nonrefundable application fee of $50 with their applications. Successful applicants will be required to pay additional program fees.

Grower applications must be postmarked or received by the KDA marketing office no later than November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST. Processor or handler applicants are encouraged to submit their applications by November 14, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. EST.

For more information, including the 2017 Policy Guide and a downloadable application, go to kyagr.com/hemp.

CONTINUE TO KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF AGRIGULTURE

KY Marijuana Eradication; a timeline of news & info; 1990 – 2016


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On the 8th of April 2010 the Kentucky Eradication Initiative received a national "Outstanding Task Force" award from the national High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area organization, recognizing them as the number 1 of over 600 other nationwide task forces in marijuana eradication. The Kentucky Eradication Initiative is comprised of personnel from the Kentucky Army National Guard, Kentucky State Police, USDA Forest Service, DEA, USMS, the USAO for the Eastern District and numerous local law enforcement agencies. In addition to eradicating 330,699 plants, there were 483 cultivators arrested state wide and $966,078.00 in forfeitable assets seized in 2009.  YEAR END REPORTS AVAILABLE THRU THIS LINK.

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Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force Photo Gallery 2014 – SOURCE LINK

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SOURCE VIDEO

The following are links to newsworthy items found through searching the internet, with regards to marijuana eradication in Kentucky …

2016

*The KSP worked with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, the Tompkinsville Police Department and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department on Monday to destroy a large marijuana find consisting of about 5,600 plants in the Mill Creek area of Monroe County.  "This is the biggest (find) I’ve ever encountered in my life in my history of law enforcement," said Monroe County Sheriff Dale "Frog" Ford.  SOURCE

*BURNWELL, Ky. – The Kentucky State Police (KSP) Eradication Division made a substantial arrest in the war on drugs Thursday afternoon. Approximately 250 to 280 plants were confiscated by the KSP drug task force.   At the end of a quiet day at the headquarters of the Kentucky National Guard counterdrug program, Lt. Col. Gary Lewis flips through mission photos on his computer. In one shot, a Bluegrass State UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter is stuffed to the gills with marijuana plants, doors unable to close. In another, flames char the illegal contraband at a controlled-burn site only walking distance from his office.SOURCE

*At the end of a quiet day at the headquarters of the Kentucky National Guard counterdrug program, Lt. Col. Gary Lewis flips through mission photos on his computer. In one shot, a Bluegrass State UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter is stuffed to the gills with marijuana plants, doors unable to close. In another, flames char the illegal contraband at a controlled-burn site only walking distance from his office.  SOURCE

2015

VIDEO SOURCE

State Troopers with the Kentucky State Police Cannabis Suppression Branch examine $100,000 worth of illegal marijuana growing inside a cornfield in Burnside, Kentucky, U.S. on Monday, September 14, 2015. Shots: Two State Troopers use machetes to destroy Marijuana plants found in the middle of a cornfield, State Troopers with the Kentucky State Police Cannabis Suppression Branch carry marijuana plants seized from an illegal patch found in the woods in Pine Knot, Kentucky  SOURCE

2014

*$175, 465 million for National Guard Counter-Drug Operations, including support for the Kentucky National Guard to eradicate marijuana from the Daniel Boone National Forest. The Kentucky State Police reported nearly a half million plants were eradicated in Kentucky last year.  SOURCE

The Messenger-Inquirer reports every state police post plans to participate in the sweeps. Officials say while helicopter searches will be performed in every county, the time spent in each one depends on how much of the illegal drug is found in an initial flyover.  SOURCE

2013

*Kentucky State Trooper Corey King said so much marijuana is grown in eastern Kentucky that most of the plots they find through the program are grown as decoys, while the actual crop is hidden, grown elsewhere.  “They intentionally grow large areas for our suppression team to find,” King said. “It takes the focus off other areas.”  SOURCE

*Instead of conducting blanket flyovers, the agency said it will target areas where marijuana has been frequently grown in the past, and will use tips from snitches to schedule areas for inspection.  SOURCE

2012

*LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The KSP Cannabis Suppression Branch launched their annual outdoor campaign to eradicate cultivated marijuana with a two-day training including aerial spotting and repel techniques, GPS land navigation, ATV training, and booby trap awareness.  SOURCE

*Last year these morality thugs destroyed about 400,000 outdoor plants worth an estimated $800 million. Instead of a sensible taxation and regulation policy to help our economy and to stop incarcerating undeserving people, we’ll squander even more tax dollars this year in Kentucky for aerial support on this futile, and unwanted by the majority of the people, war on marijuana.  SOURCE

2011

*In 2011, Kentucky marijuana suppression teams eradicated nearly 400,000 outdoor pot plants from over 5,000 plots resulting in 371 arrests.  SOURCE

*Reefer madness? Copter and SWAT team weeded out 2 plants on their property  SOURCE

2010

*Kentucky Eradication Initiative Recognized as Top Nationwide Task Force in Marijuana Eradication.   SOURCE

2009

*On August 26, 2010, Ranger David Alexander made the maiden voyage of a Mammoth Cave officer flying in the Kentucky State Police (KSP) helicopter as they searched for marijuana fields in and around Mammoth Cave National Park.   SOURCE

*Machete-wielding police officers have hacked their way through billions of dollars worth of marijuana in the country’s top pot-growing states to stave off a bumper crop sprouting in the tough economy.   The amount only got bigger Thursday when helicopter spotters in Tennessee discovered a five-acre pot field near the Kentucky border and cut down more than 151,000 mature marijuana plants.   SOURCE

2008

*In existence for a year now, “Up in Smoke” combines the powers of one of the nation’s top-shelf marijuana eradication task forces here in eastern Kentucky and U.S. Attorney’s office prosecutors. With over a million dollars annually in funding, the program is celebrating its one-year mark, and those behind it are hoping to increase awareness — and let marijuana growers know they aren’t safe anymore.  SOURCE

2007

In 2007-2008, Kentucky was one of the top ten states for rates in several drug-use categories among persons age 12 and older: past-year non-medical use of pain relievers; past-month use of illicit drugs other than marijuana ; and illicit drug dependence.Source: National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2007-2008 SOURCE

2006

*Police destroyed more marijuana growing outdoors in Kentucky this year than they had in more than a decade, according to numbers compiled by state police.
One factor in the increase was that the U.S.  Drug Enforcement Administration brought in several helicopters and an airplane for six weeks during the summer, creating more opportunity for airborne spotters to find pot patches, said Lt.  Ed Shemelya, head of the marijuana-eradication program for the Kentucky State Police.   SOURCE

2005

*During the past five years, law enforcement agencies in Kentucky have found and destroyed an average of more than 450,000 marijuana plants annually, or about one plant for every nine state residents.   SOURCE

2004

*(FRANKFORT, Ky.) Troopers from Kentucky State Police Post 12 in Frankfort seized 1,424 pounds of processed marijuana from a barn located on Lilliard Ferry Road in Woodford County yesterday. Two bags of marijuana and ten 12-foot-tall plants were also found.  According to KSP Post 12, the estimated value of the confiscated material is approximately $1.1 million to $1.4 million.  SOURCE

2003

*In 2003, 522,957 marijuana plants were eradicated in Kentucky, according to the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program.   SOURCE

2002

*Law enforcement reporting indicates that cannabis cultivation sites have been discovered on NFS and DOI lands throughout the United States. However, most cannabis cultivation on federal lands appears to be occurring in California and Kentucky, where a large number of plants have been eradicated in recent years. Marijuana producers cultivate cannabis on federal lands in plots that vary in size from a few plants, cultivated by independent marijuana producers for personal use, to tens of thousands of plants cultivated by organized criminal groups for wholesale-level distribution.  SOURCE

2001

*The U.S. Forest Service and other law enforcement agencies destroyed more than 200,000 marijuana plants in Eastern Kentucky’s sprawling Daniel Boone National Forest last summer.
Although below the record levels found in the early 1990s, the volume of pot being grown still is enough to make the forest a dangerous place.
The 695,000-acre forest represents less than 1 percent of the state’s land, but accounts for about 40 percent of the pot eradicated statewide, according to Capt. Harold Sizemore, who oversees the anti-drug efforts in the Boone forest.  SOURCE

2000

*In 2000 over 460,000 cannabis plants were eradicated in Kentucky, ranking it third behind California and Hawaii, respectively.  SOURCE

*Kentucky is one of five states that produces 90 percent of the nation’s domestically produced marijuana, and it is a leading producer state in the nation’s southeastern "marijuana belt."  DCE/SP operations were considered successful in 2000. Its efforts resulted in the arrest of 357 individuals and the seizure of 122 weapons and $507,607 in assets. In 2000 Kentucky eradicated 466,933 cannabis plants from 8,415 outdoor plots and 66 indoor plots.  SOURCE

1999-PRIOR

*(1990) The outdoor ring, based in Kentucky`s Marion County, called itself the Cornbread Mafia. The indoor group, based in Albuquerque, was dubbed The Company because it operated just like a big business. The two had little in common except that both reaped untold millions in illicit profits from the super potent form of marijuana known as sinsemilla.  SOURCE

*(1986) That first joint effort by state police and the Guard in 1986 was a one-day sweep, essentially a media event to publicize eradication efforts.
Now Kentucky’s eradication — cited as one of the top efforts in the nation — runs year round and uses a task force that involves many more police, troops and agencies, including the state police and National Guard, the DEA, the U.S.  Forest Service, the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and local officers. SOURCE

*(1985) Pesticide officials in Kentucky and Georgia–two other states that would be major targets of an eradication campaign–also said they had received no notification of the plan. Georgia officials said they had no objection to the use of paraquat; Kentucky officials said they did.  "We determined that our citizens are opposed to it and quite honestly we work for them," said Capt. Charles Johnson, chief of the narcotics division of the Kentucky State Police.  SOURCE

*(1989) According to Barnett, other growers and law enforcement officials, marijuana-eradication efforts in Tennessee, Kentucky and neighboring states are forcing some marijuana growers out of business and obliging others to resort to increasingly sophisticated ploys to avoid detection.  SOURCE

*(1989) WASHINGTON — "In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the Police Patrol, snooping into people’s windows."  That passage was written 40 years ago by George Orwell in 1984, a grim vision of what life would be like in this decade.  Orwell’s description of intrusive police surveillance was quoted Monday by the Supreme Court’s senior justice, William J. Brennan Jr., in a dissenting ruling that warned that Orwell’s prediction might be coming true.  SOURCE

"TRIBUTE TO SPECIAL AGENT JAMES HAROL SIZEMORE"   SOURCE

 

 

Do you hear the sound
            As the blades beat the air?
Do you look out your window,
            Or pretend like you don’t care?
Do you see the shadow move across the ground,
            Or do you just hear that heart pounding sound?
Do you hear that chopper coming?
            Then it won’t be long.
Do you know dope dealer?
            All your dope will be gone.

So work real hard to grow your weed,
            But when you come back don’t expect to find a seed.
I keep a sharp blade just to cut your grass,
            And if you plant more, I’ll just make another pass.
Do you know what your dope can do?
            I have seen what it does to you.
I know what your dope can do.
            I have watched children on it too.

For this, I will hunt you down,
            In the air and on the ground.
I will rappel down anywhere,
            Or hump through the woods, I don’t care.
Be afraid if I find you there.
            When the jury comes back only you will care.

I work marijuana erad,
            And I know all your hiding places.
I carry a badge, a knife, and a gun.
            And I have a thousand different faces.

A Kentucky State Trooper on Marijuana Eradication

SOURCE

2007: Kentucky goes after ‘Marijuana Belt’ growers


(A historical post from 2007 about marijuana eradication in Kentucky)

 

Posted 9/30/2007

Kentucky state police, National Guard members, Drug Enforcement Administration agents, U.S. Forest Service spotters and others are part of a strike force based in London, Ky., that works dawn to dark to eradicate marijuana harvests. The remote and rugged terrain, including the 700,000 acres of the Daniel Boone National Forest, is a pot-grower's paradise whose perfect soil and climate give it a key place in America's "Marijuana Belt."

Kentucky state police, National Guard members, Drug Enforcement Administration agents, U.S. Forest Service spotters and others are part of a strike force based in London, Ky., that works dawn to dark to eradicate marijuana harvests. The remote and rugged terrain, including the 700,000 acres of the Daniel Boone National Forest, is a pot-grower’s paradise whose perfect soil and climate give it a key place in America’s "Marijuana Belt." By Matt Stone, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal

By Chris Kenning, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal

BARBOURVILLE, Ky. — Deep in the Appalachian woods near the Knox-Bell County line, Kentucky State Police Trooper Dewayne Holden’s Humvee belched smoke and roared as it struggled up what once was an old logging trail.

As his three-truck convoy stopped at a clearing atop a 3,000-foot ridge, Holden grabbed a machete and joined eight other armed troopers and National Guard members, hiking toward a hill under some power lines.

Keeping an eye out for nail pits, pipe bombs and poison-snake booby traps, they found fresh ATV tracks.

The pot growers had beaten them to the prize: Gone were the 40 to 50 marijuana plants worth as much as $100,000 that Holden spotted from a helicopter more than a week earlier. Only six spindly plants were left.

"Well, that’s six they won’t get," he says, shrugging and pulling them out of the dirt. "Sometimes they just get here before we do."

Welcome to the battle police and marijuana growers wage each fall in Kentucky’s remote Appalachian counties, where 75% of the state’s top cash crop is grown.

According to officials at the Office of National Drug Policy’s Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA), Kentucky produces more marijuana than any other state except California, making it home to one of the nation’s more intensive eradication efforts — a yearly game of harvest-time cat and mouse in national forests, abandoned farms, shady hollows, backyards and mountainsides.

"We’re essentially in a race with the grower to get it before he does," says state police Lt. Ed Shemelya, head of the eradication unit. This time of year, "it’s not uncommon for us to be on one side of a hill eradicating, and on the other a grower is harvesting."

More than 100 state police, guard members, DEA agents, U.S. Forest Service spotters and others are part of a strike force based in London, Ky., that works dawn to dark, sometimes roping into remote patches from Blackhawk helicopters.

With a budget of $1.5.million and help from a $6.million federal anti-drug effort in the region, last year the state seized 557,628 marijuana plants worth an estimated $1.billion.

Authorities say their efforts keep drugs off the streets and illicit profits out of criminal hands. But critics call it a waste of time and money that has failed to curb availability or demand.

"Trying to eradicate marijuana is like taking a teaspoon and saying you’re going to empty the Atlantic Ocean," says Gary Potter, an Eastern Kentucky University professor of criminal justice who has researched the issue for decades.

Traps and tradition

On a rainy morning at the Civil Air Patrol airfield just outside London, National Guard pilots, DEA agents and state police sip coffee and await their morning briefing.

On the wall hangs a T-shirt reading, "Welcome to the Jungle: Kentucky Eradication 2007," a marker of how big the pot business has become since taking root in the area in the 1970s.

A typical day will involve hitting 15 to 20 marijuana plots — most spotted by Holden or another pilot in a helicopter. They have learned to spot the tell-tale earthen trails and bluish-green of pot patches. They mark the GPS coordinates, then guide in ground forces to cut and burn the crop.

A display case in the squat concrete building where they’ve gathered is a reminder of the booby traps they might face: Pipe bombs with trip wires, fishing hooks strung face-high across trails, sharpened bamboo sticks, ankle-crushing bear traps; and boards pounded through with three-inch nails that are laid on the ground and covered with leaves.

"Some growers will take a poisonous snake and with monofilament wire, tie it to the plot," Shemelya says, leaving police to find "one (very mad) pissed-off copperhead."

The traps are meant mainly for thieves. Most growers found on the sites, even armed ones, flee when police arrive. Still, the booby-traps are a hazard. A few years ago, three growers blew themselves up rigging a pipe bomb. One of Shemelya’s men has had his face sliced with hooks, and another was injured after stepping into a "spike pit," he says.

This morning, rain and a mechanical problem prompt the team to head out without the chopper — although they know it’ll be easy to walk right past a giant pot patch amid the thick curtains of Appalachian forest.

The remote and rugged terrain, including the 700,000 acres of the Daniel Boone National Forest, is a pot-grower’s paradise — its perfect soil and climate give it a key place in America’s "Marijuana Belt."

But the reasons go beyond the landscape.

Many of the small towns of Eastern Kentucky, steeped in a tradition of bootlegging moonshine, also have high rates of unemployment and poverty and in some cases, public corruption, according to federal drug officials. People can make as much as $2,000 from a single plant, an often irresistible draw when good-paying jobs are scarce. Much of what is harvested is carried in car trunks to such cities as Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit, authorities say.

The estimated worth of seized plants alone far outstrips Kentucky’s other crops. Federal statistics from the Department of Agriculture for 2005 show state receipts for tobacco were $342 million and corn was $336 million, compared with close to $1 billion of pot eradicated last year by HIDTA.

Over time, growing pot has become an "accepted and even encouraged" part of the culture in Appalachia, according to a 2006 report from the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Still, authorities complain that in some counties it is difficult to get a jury to indict, much less convict, a marijuana grower.

"In one county, we had 45 minutes of surveillance video of a man cultivating. We couldn’t even get beyond a grand jury. What better evidence can you have?" Shemelya says.

Holden says that unless a patch he cuts down is huge or contains traceable evidence, he rarely goes knocking at nearby homes in hopes of ferreting out the grower. Everyone knows who it is, he says, but no one tells.

"It’s very engrained in the culture," he says.

Dispute over success

At one edge of London’s tiny downtown is a bank building with reflective windows. It’s not listed on the directory, but upstairs, behind a security door, is the carpeted office of Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA.

The 68 counties in Eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee and western West Virginia that make up the area have less than 1% of the country’s population, according to Census and National Drug Intelligence Center data, but HITDA figures indicate the region contained roughly 10% of the marijuana eradicated nationwide in 2006.

Director C. Frank Rapier, speaking in a loping Eastern Kentucky accent, ticks off the success of marijuana eradication — known as "whack and stack" to the locals.

With the help of HIDTA money of $6 million, which covers three states, drug agents destroyed more than a half-million plants last year in Kentucky alone and netted 512 arrests. So far this year, the anti-drug effort has snagged 365,000 plants from more than 3,000 plots in Kentucky, Rapier says.

Since eradication started in the 1990s, Rapier says, the national forests are a little safer for visitors. There’s less marijuana, which he believes is a gateway to harder drugs. And last year an estimated $1 billion worth of profits were kept out of Kentucky.

This year, drought has done some of the strike force’s work: The total number of plants destroyed and their street value will be down significantly because dry conditions withered many plants, according to Rapier and Shemelya.

But overall, Rapier says, the team’s work has resulted in the average plot size declining from 300-400 plants to less than 80. And he says the Mexican drug gangs that control much of the marijuana growing in California have stayed away.

"It’s been very successful," he says.

Potter, who has done field research that has put him in touch with many current and former growers, has a different view.

"Simply cutting down and burning plants does no good at all," he says, adding that growers are just planting more in scattered plots, often under netting or shaded areas.

They also shore up profits by boosting levels of THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol — the chemical that causes a high — to 15% today from 3% in the 1970s to 15% today.

Potter also argues that eradication programs often exaggerate the street value of the plants they pull up as a way to justify their existence.

"There’s more marijuana, better marijuana, more people smoking and more profits to growers and dealers than ever before," he says. "I don’t care what KSP and DEA says, by the mid-1990s the war on drugs was over, and the traffickers won."

Last year’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that about 40% of Americans age 12 or older have tried marijuana at least once. Nearly 11% say they used it within the past year.

Criminal justice professor Potter, who lives and teaches in Richmond, says he also believes that more powerful dope and greater police pressure has raised the stakes, and the danger.

"Last summer, I was out in the rural part of the county bumming around with my Jack Russell," he says. "I ran into three guys who were heavily armed. One said, ‘You really don’t want to be here.’ Twenty years ago, they would’ve offered you a joint — now they’re chasing you away with rifles."

Allen St. Pierre — director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws based in Washington, D.C. — agreed with Potter that eradication efforts aren’t as effective as authorities say.

Efforts in all 50 states haven’t kept marijuana production from increasing tenfold in the past 25 years to 22 million pounds in 2006, according to federal estimates compiled by a researcher from St. Pierre’s organization, using statistics from the U.S. Justice Department and other agencies. St. Pierre’s group also argues that pot isn’t as dangerous as officials contend.

Because production numbers generally are based on eradication figures, it’s impossible to know for sure what kind of dent police efforts are making. Shemelya says he thinks they get close to half of what’s grown. Potter says it’s probably far less.

"There’s an old saying," Trooper Holden says. "You plant a third for the law, a third for the thieves and a third for yourself."

This year, federal prosecutors are jettisoning their usual 100-plant threshold — used as a guideline to bring federal cultivation charges — and enacting a "zero-tolerance" policy for violations on federal land, Rapier says.

The idea is to push more growers onto private land, which can be seized.

Shemelya says he believes that marijuana would be on every hillside in Eastern Kentucky if his unit didn’t keep it in check.

"You’re never going to stop people from growing marijuana," he says. "But the idea is to make it so dad-gummed hard to grow they go to Tennessee or somewhere else."

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Joint effort: KSP, task force in midst of marijuana eradication


BY GINA KINSLOW gkinslow@glasgowdailytimes.com

Marijuana eradication

GLASGOW — The growing season for marijuana is about to come to an end in Kentucky.

Marijuana cultivation season begins in mid-spring and lasts until the first frost, which means law enforcement agencies such as the Barren River Drug Task Force and the Kentucky State Police are busy during that time working to eradicate marijuana from the area.

The KSP partners with the Kentucky National Guard, as well as local law enforcement agencies to eradicate marijuana.

The KSP worked with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, the Tompkinsville Police Department and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department on Monday to destroy a large marijuana find consisting of about 5,600 plants in the Mill Creek area of Monroe County.

"This is the biggest (find) I’ve ever encountered in my life in my history of law enforcement," said Monroe County Sheriff Dale "Frog" Ford.

No arrests have been made in conjunction with the marijuana find, but Ford said the case is under investigation by the KSP.

The large marijuana find in Monroe County is an example of how the KSP works with local law enforcement agencies in eradicating marijuana.

The KSP works to cover the entire state during marijuana cultivation season.

“We will have different teams stationed in different regions of the state,” said Trooper B.J. Eaton, public affairs officer for the KSP in Bowling Green. “It’s kind of a fluid, dynamic group. They just move to where they feel the potential to find it is the highest.”

The KSP is able to locate marijuana grows by air and land.

“Throughout the whole cultivating season we attempt to spot and locate the marijuana that is being cultivated and we move those teams in,” he said, adding that if the marijuana is not in a location that is easily reached by a land eradication team, an air eradication team will repel down from a helicopter to the area, cut down the marijuana and dispose of it.

Marijuana is something that can be spotted easily from a helicopter.

“It is very distinct from the air from its color,” he said. “It is kind of a darker green.”

Sometimes it is easy for the eradication teams to locate the marijuana from the air because it is in the process of being cultivated, with the area around it having been worn away due to people coming in to care for it as it grows, he said.

The drug task force also goes out searching for marijuana plants growing in its coverage area, and like the KSP, it also receives tips to help locate some of the marijuana grows. Some eradications have been indoor grows.

“The tips that we’ve had this year have been good,” said Ron Lafferty, director of the drug task force. “We haven’t had no where as many tips as we had last year.”

The largest marijuana find the drug task force has eradicated this year has been only eight plants.

“We had several small ones like two or four (plants),” Lafferty said. “Last year, there was 350 in one place.”

Marijuana can be found in some of most unlikely places.

“We found it behind residences where a small wooded area has been cut-out,” he said. “We have found it in corn fields. We have found it next to streams or rivers, in people’s backyards; planted in tall grass where (the plants) can’t be seen (and) in-between hay stacks.”

As for indoor marijuana grows, Lafferty said they have been found in basements, additional mobile homes on properties and in multi-bay garages.

Marijuana is so widespread across Kentucky because of the area’s growing season.

“I believe it is so prevalent here because of the region that we are in,” Eaton said, adding that the state’s climate and terrain are perfect for growing marijuana.

The number of marijuana plants cultivated and eradicated by the KSP over the past five years has neither increased nor decreased.

“The numbers I have been looking at, it is pretty consistent over the board,” Eaton said. “In 2011, we had just under 400,000 plants that were harvested. In 2015, it’s just under 530,000 and then those numbers for 2012, 2013 and 2014 fluctuate.”

Statistics from the drug task force show the number of marijuana plants discovered over the past five years to vary from year to year, with 2014 and 2015 being the years when the most plants were located.

In 2011, the drug task force found 140 plants. The next year it found 170.

There was a major decrease the following year, with only 60 plants discovered.

But in 2014, the number of plants found by the drug task force was 469 and in 2015 the agency located 504 plants.

This year, so far, the drug task force has found a total of 24 plants.

“It’s not harvest time, but it’s getting close,” Lafferty said.

Cultivating marijuana over five plants is a Class D felony for the first offense, which is punishable of one to five years in prison, he said.

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Genius Extraction Technologies, a California company the produces hemp and cannabis oil extraction equipment, announced plans to build a new $400,000 hemp processing facility in Winchester


 

 

The Sunday Drive: Kentucky, others getting on board with hemp

Posted: Monday, July 11, 2016 11:37 am

By Steve Foley The Winchester Sun | 1 comment

Section 7606 of the Agricultural Act established in 2014 is quickly making it’s presence felt here in the Bluegrass.

That, my friends, is a good thing.

The Agricultural Act of 2014 allowed certain states including Kentucky to start farming hemp again after a ban of almost 60 years. 

While it will probably take a few years before we fully know if hemp can replace a significant portion of the income lost with the disappearance of tobacco and coal revenue, there’s a plethora of Kentuckian entrepreneurs, farmers and manufacturers who already are staking their future on it.

The hemp revitalization began soon after Feb. 7, 2014, when the Agricultural Act bill was signed into law. It authorized five-year pilot programs throughout universities and state departments of agriculture. 

As of today, there are 28 states including many in the South which have been approved to grow industrial hemp — some for research and some for commercial value. For the next four years, hemp can be grown and processed to produce fiber for textiles, paper and building materials, as well as seed and oil for food, beauty products, biopharmaceuticals and fuel.

It’s been well advertised Kentucky is the epicenter for hemp, as U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer have made the state a leader in industrial hemp production.,

Now, farmers across the state including many former tobacco farmers are planting hemp seeds that have been grown in the country since the crop was banned nearly 60 years ago.

Last year, the Kentucky State Department of Agriculture  licensed more than 100 programs at universities, private farms and processing sites. One of them is here in Clark County located off Colby Road at Atalo Holdings, Inc, a 27-acre farm of cannabinoid-rich plants.

Last month, Genius Extraction Technologies, a California company the produces hemp and cannabis oil extraction equipment, announced plans to build a new $400,000 hemp processing facility in Winchester.

The facility will be located at Atalo’s Hemp Research Campus on Colby Road, where early testing and setup has been underway since March.

The company expects to process some 250,000 pounds of hemp for commercial uses in the fall for Atalo and its subsidiaries, Super Food Processing and KentuckyCBD.

Across the state, hemp pilot programs have dramatically increased over the past year with hundreds participating and close to 4,500 acres of hemp being planted.

According to a recent report from SurfKY News, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy Executive Director Warren Beeler told the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee Atalo Holdings’ hemp contracts this year cover over half of the 4,500 acres planted statewide.

Atalo got its start with $492,000 in state funds pulled from a 16-year-old settlement between the state and cigarette manufacturers after Kentucky made state-sponsored research legal in 2013, Beeler said.

It was the first project to receive state tobacco settlement dollars for a hemp-related project, the GOAP reported last year, and it is currently processing its product from last year into protein powder and other legal hemp products.

Many other hemp operations are also at work across the state, and most hemp grown are being used for cannabidiol or CBD, a lucrative hemp compound believed to have medicinal benefits.

Kentucky passed a law in 2014 that excludes CBD oil from the definition of marijuana for certain epileptic patients.

CBD oil is just one product in today’s ever increasing hemp market. How large the hemp market will grown remains to be seen.

“How big is the market? We don’t know that,” Beeler said in the same SurfKY News story, telling the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee he hopes hemp production can eventually replace lost tobacco income. “We went from 33 acres (or industrial hemp initially) to somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 to 5,000 this year, and I don’t think anybody much is raising this stuff who doesn’t have a contract or place to get rid of it.

“Who knows where we might be in 20 years?”

Contact Steve Foley at steve.foley@winchestersun.com or follow him on Twitter @SteveFoley8.

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Hemp farmer contends harassment at justice center


Sergeant discussed issue with deputies, considers matter closed

 

A Bowling Green hemp advocate and business owner claims he was ordered to leave a baseball cap with a hemp leaf logo on it with court security personnel as he entered the Warren County Justice Center on Thursday.

Chad Wilson, who owns Modern Farm Concepts and is vice president of sales and marketing for hemp products company Green Remedy, said he accompanied his son to the justice center to get his driver’s license.

After passing through the metal detectors in the front lobby of the justice center, Wilson, who was wearing a T-shirt and hat promoting Green Remedy, said a deputy told Wilson he would have to leave the hemp-logo hat with court security or else he would have to leave.

Hemp and marijuana are both part of the cannabis plant genus, but hemp is genetically different and generally has negligible amounts of THC, the active chemical in marijuana.

Kentucky and several other states have legalized the cultivation and research of industrial hemp, which can be used in the making of paper, fabrics, cosmetics and several other products. Hemp growers, however, must get permission from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to raise the crop.

Green Remedy is one of 167 registered participants in this year’s Kentucky Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program.

Wilson attempted to explain what was on his hat and that he was a licensed grower, but court security officers said that Wilson’s hat promoted marijuana, Wilson said Friday.

“I was told basically that I had no right to come into a government building that my taxes paid for,” Wilson said. “I didn’t want to make a scene because I was trying to be a good dad, but I should have stood for my rights.”

Wilson said he gave the hat to court security officers, who stored it in a lock box until he left the justice center. As he left, Wilson recorded a video of himself in which he gave an account of the incident and posted it to his Facebook page.

Later on Thursday, Wilson said he went to the Warren County Sheriff’s Office to complain about how he was treated and that Chief Deputy Maj. Tommy Smith apologized.

The court security officers are a division of the sheriff’s office.

Sgt. Andy McDowell said he was apprised of the situation after Wilson went to the sheriff’s office and he met with the court security officers on duty to discuss the incident.

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