MASON COUNTY — It’s that time of year again - marijuana eradication season.
The latest arrests associated with this effort from the Mason County Detachment of the West Virginia State Police include: Dana J. Keefer, 54, Leon, cultivation of marijuana (26 plants seized), arrested Aug. 23, posted bond, investigated by Cpl. K.M. Gilley. Boyd D. Stover, 77, Evans, cultivation of marijuana (six plants seized), arrested on Aug. 22, released on $5,000 property bond, investigated by Trooper S.C. Allen. Lyman R. Greenlee, 64, Point Pleasant, cultivation of marijuana (28 plants seized), arrested on Aug. 24, released $5,000 PR bond, investigated by Trooper T.V. Hughes.
These three arrests were only the most recent with Sgt. E.B. Starcher with the Mason County Post saying the eradication season is still very much under way. More numbers will be released from this year’s eradication season as it progresses.
Sgt. Mike Smith, marijuana eradication officer with the WVSP, said at this point in the season, troopers have seized an estimated 100,000 marijuana plants state wide. Smith said marijuana plants are typically planted like most vegetable plants in West Virgina, at the end of April or first of May, then harvested in September or mid to late October.
Smith said based on information obtained from growers who’ve been arrested, as well as troopers finding burned out and wilted plants, its evident this year’s dry weather will have some affect on the amount of plants confiscated. Smith added though he didn’t expect this to be a “record year” in terms of seizures, the dry weather will likely not affect the number of seizures when compared to last year. Last year’s seizures were down as well due to weather, only last year too much rain was Mother Nature’s culprit.
Smith said some of the biggest “offenders” when it comes to marijuana cultivation are typically found in the Southern part of the state, including Wayne, Logan and Mingo counties. He added there have been significant seizures in McDowell and Wyoming counties as well. As for Mason County, Smith said marijuana cultivation is taking place but those numbers are down, saying this is attributed to the Mason County Post pushing a successful program of eradication.
Smith said marijuana remains a lucrative business with indoor cannabis going for around $5,000 to $7,000 a pound; outdoor cannabis, $3,000 to $4,000 a pound; and Mexican cannabis going for $800-$1,200 a pound.
“It’s all about the money,” Smith said, which of course invites crime and violence.
Despite the lucrative money involved, Smith said because marijuana takes more investment (at least in time and effort), some growers are switching over to dealing pain pills which make them less money than pot but also cost them less work.
Smith said just because the WVSP has dedicated some of its resources to eradicating marijuana doesn’t mean those resources are being taken away from also eradicating the sale of illegal pain pills, methamphetamine and other drugs. Basically, the eradication of marijuana is a link in the chain when it comes to eliminating the drug problem.