See that helicopter? Ohio marijuana eradication continuing with use of Butler County sheriff’s equipment

Authorities have been successful in taking out illegal crops throughout the state.

Medical marijuana is legal in Ohio, but the state, funded by a federal grant, continues eradication looking for illegal crops. And it has been a “good year,” according to officials.

All Ohio counties conduct investigations annually with eradication operations using helicopter from the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Transportation, according to Steve Irwin, spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

This year, eradication began in the middle of August and is ongoing through Oct. 1. On Tuesday, the BCSO helicopter was back out in Butler County looking for illegal crops.

“The whole thing is funded through a grant from the DEA. We do the work and work with Butler County, Ohio Highway Patrol and ODT to use their helicopters,” Irwin said. “It apparently had been a good year. They have been quite successful.”

Statewide to date 18,888 plants have been located and seized. In 2019, 11,966 plants were located and last year, 15,257. To date in Butler County, 79 plants were located; 312 plants in Preble; 118 in Warren and no count for Montgomery because the operation is ongoing.

The grant pays for the manpower and the helicopter.

“There’s a lot of street value to the drug still and we know that Ohio is not an exporter of marijuana, so we know the weed that is gown here is being used here,” Irwin said. Estimated street value of each plant is $1,500, he said.

Medical marijuana is regulated and tracked, Irwin said. What is grown in a field for resale is not.

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said his department is being paid for use in the eradiation operation run by the state. The department’s helicopter is used in about a third of the state’s counties.

“When marijuana is grown and unregulated they cut it with fentanyl and people die. It is not your normal marijuana. When it is unregulated they lace it with fentanyl and other drugs.”

Jones said it is no different than bootleg whiskey that can make people sick or kill them if they don’t know what it is made of.

“They are dying and they think they are just smoking a little marijuana they bought from the corner,” Jones said, adding the eradication operation is not about looking in backyards for 2 marijuana plants and “we don’t put people in jail for having little bag of weed.”

“Until they legalized it, other than prescription marijuana, sure there will be enforcement. You can’t just go and grow it for a profit and put other drugs in it,” Jones said.

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