Washington County weeds out marijuana

$800,000 worth of drug eradicated

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From pipeline rights of way to forest glades, a drug task force of police and military officials found marijuana plants growing in two Washington County townships and the city of Washington, which this week was part of a “marijuana eradication” program that netted about $800,000 worth of pot, according to the Washington County District Attorney’s Office.

Officers located and destroyed about 800 marijuana plants between Monday and Friday and are working to find even more in the county’s more remote corners of woods and fields, according to Washington County District Attorney Eugene Vittone.

“I was surprised there was that much growing around here, and apparently there are other patches growing in the county, other patches they didn’t get to,” Mr. Vittone said. “Once you get pretty far out, it can be difficult to get to even with an ATV.”

The bust pulled together soldiers from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Counter Drug Unit and officers from the Washington County District Attorney’s Drug Task Force, Pennsylvania State Police Troop B Vice Unit, the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Civil Air Patrol, Mr. Vittone said. National Guard soldiers and Civil Air Patrol members would locate marijuana patches from the air, then police officers on the ground would cut down and burn the plants.

The marijuana plants were found in parts of Carroll and South Strabane townships and within the limits of the city of Washington, Mr. Vittone said. Growing marijuana plants is a felony, according to state law, although no charges are pending against any “growers” who might have been raising the plants.

Each plant would yield about one pound of finished marijuana worth about $1,000 for “homegrown” quality that contains comparatively little THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the material responsible for producing a “high” in users, Mr. Vittone said. More potent plants can be worth $2,000 to $3,000 a pound, he said.

Amy McConnell Schaarsmith: aschaarsmith@post-gazette.com.

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