WV State Police combing Kanawha Co. for marijuana - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WV State Police combing Kanawha Co. for marijuana

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At its peak, a single marijuana plant can yield $2,000, according to Sgt. Michael Simpson, with the West Virginia State Police.

By high noon Monday, troopers had cut nine crops in a remote area of Kanawha County. In their eyes, the bounty represented $18,000 worth of marijuana off the market.

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"Eradication effort is an effort of the state police every year to eradicate marijuana grown in the wooded areas of the state each year," Simpson said.

Troopers in Kanawha County launched a marijuana eradication effort Monday. A dozen or so officers traveled to Pinch and Sissonville to cut as much dope as they could find.

"It's rained and been hot, so it's prime growing season," Simpson said.

Any eradication starts with a smidgeon of intelligence - a tip from the public or an area ousted during a previous season. On the day of the eradication, troopers in a helicopter search for patches, then alert a ground crew. Officers on the ground are then responsible for cutting the dope.

The agency aims to cut 200,000 plants by the end of the season, according to First Sgt. Michael Smith, with the West Virginia State Police. At this point, troopers have cut approximately half that number.  Smith said a combination of mold, mice, and spiders have yielded a smaller marijuana crop in 2013.

"It looks like it's a lot of fun, but in reality, it's a lot of hard work," Simpson said.

In 2012, West Virginia ranked fourth among states for the number of marijuana plants authorities destroyed, according to Smith.

The year before, data from the University of Albany (SUNY) placed the Mountain State at number five.

Smith cited the regional's rural, often remote, landscape as a reason why people choose to harvest marijuana in West Virginia.  Officers Monday expressed that the war on marijuana sometimes needs to be fought plant by plant.

"We want to disrupt the flow before it hits the streets," Smith said.

Troopers said they will make one arrest in connection with the patch found in Pinch.