There apparently is one bright spot to the drought plaguing the Midwest — police say it’s making marijuana crops a lot easier to spot.
As Indiana State Police got an early start to the annual marijuana eradication season Tuesday morning, Sgt. Jerry Goodin said the browning of drought-stricken corn makes the resilient green pot plants interspersed between them “stick out like a sore thumb.”
State police chopped down about 30 newly flowering pot plants — an estimated $30,000 worth if they had been allowed to mature fully — before noon Tuesday.
Equipped with camouflage clothes, machetes, GPS devices and police radios, state troopers marched into a cornfield between Scottsburg and Henryville, guided by a Civil Air Patrol pilot flying overhead who gave them precise directions.
“A lot of people think we use infrared scopes, but we don’t. Marijuana has a distinct green color,” said Trooper Mike Bennett, coordinator of the state police Marijuana Eradication Team.
State police cut down about 100 plants later Tuesday at rural sites in Harrison and Clark counties. They plan to burn the plants.
No arrests were made because police didn’t catch anyone cultivating the plants.
“The vast majority of the property owners have no idea that it’s growing on their land,” Bennett said.
But Goodin, spokesman for the Sellersburg post, said the eradication effort is worthwhile.
“Even though we didn’t make an arrest, we ruined someone’s day or year,” Goodin said, adding he hopes it discourages other growers.
Kentucky State Police Lt. Brent Roper said his agency started cutting outdoor marijuana plants last month.
Though he said the drought hasn’t affected the number of crops they’ve seized this year, “it does help when the corn starts browning.”
Kentucky State Police destroyed more than 120,000 plants through the end of July this year, compared with about 91,000 in the same period last year.
The Hoosier state and Kentucky continue to be among the top states for outdoor pot seizures, according to federal statistics.
That data show Indiana destroyed the third most outdoor marijuana plots of any state last year (989), trailing only California (1,326) and Ohio (1,079).
Kentucky was sixth in the number of plots (711) but third in the number of outdoor plants seized and destroyed (382,701), according to statistics from the Drug Enforcement Administration.