When it comes to marijuana, Washington state is considered an M7 state, meaning one of the top seven states in the country for marijuana grow operations, Wahkiakum County Sheriff Deputy Gary Howell said Tuesday.
How much marijuana recovered will vary from year to year, Howell said. Three years ago, deputies recovered $1.2 million in street value of the plant, but this year only $3,000 has been recovered. That is a difference of 1200 plants versus 100.
Sometimes the deputies will fly with the Army/National Guard, which have an air wing that is assigned to counter drugs. But it takes a trained spotter for the marijuana searches.
“Marijuana, when you look at it from the air is a very different color,” Howell said.
The outdoor season for marijuana growth can start as early as April and go until late October, because it is affected by light changes.
If the plant is found on private property, deputies must prove that the property owner is involved, he said.
“As technology and tactics change, we’ve got to change with it,” he said. He would not divulge what those tactics are, however.
Howell advises people who come upon a growth operation to be very careful.
There are what we call Drug Traffic and Organization (DTO) grows, where people will often set up camp or booby traps, he said. Those can be dangerous. There are usually at least 500 plants or more in a DTO grow.
People who are aware of or find marijuana growing are encouraged to call the tip-line for Washington State Patrol at 1-800-388-GROW. Callers may be eligible for a reward up to $5,000 and can remain anonymous.