Marijuana Eradication Campaign is Threatened

Marijuana Eradication Campaign is Threatened
Posted by FoM on May 08, 2000 at 21:45:19 PT
Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Could the Legislature's approval of marijuana for medical purposes be the first step toward full legalization? Two developments last week related to the police campaign to destroy marijuana plants on the Big Island -- Operation Green Harvest -- seem to lead in that direction.
The Hawaii County Council voted 6-3 to defer acceptance of $265,000 in federal funds to help finance the marijuana raids. Council Chairman Jimmy Arakaki and Vice Chairman Al Smith, who had previously voted to approve other marijuana eradication grants, voted to defer action, citing concern about county liability. They said the state should assume responsibility for the raids.However, Sen. Andy Levin, chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, said he will block funding for the marijuana eradication campaign unless state officials satisfy complaints that the helicopters used in the campaign are noisy and invade residents' privacy. Levin, who represents a Big Island district, admits he doesn't want Green Harvest to continue, but says he is "hoping to start a dialogue" between the state and the community.Gary Moniz, chief of enforcement for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said the state will comply with the requirement of community meetings. But it looks as though the noise issue will be used as a pretext to shut down helicopter operations, which are essential to the campaign. State sanction of marijuana for medical purposes is problematic because such use remains illegal under federal law and because marijuana has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Moreover, it would complicate enforcement of the state general ban on marijuana because of the danger that the medical exemption would be abused. This would be less disturbing if it were accompanied by official affirmations of continuing determination to enforce the law against marijuana except for medical purposes.Instead we get a county council vote to defer action on acceptance of federal funding for Green Harvest and a state senator blocking release of funds until complaints about helicopter noise and invasions of privacy are satisfied.Crippling Green Harvest operations would give the green light to growers to step up their efforts. That would probably mean an increase in supply and a drop in price, which would encourage more consumption. Legalization of marijuana for medical purposes could create problems for police trying to distinguish between legitimate use and abuse.Advocates of legalized marijuana should be encouraged. The signs suggest they are making progress. The rest of us should be worried that marijuana use may become even more widespread.No Funding for Green Harvest Till Noise Problems Addressed:Published: Friday, May 5, 2000 By Richard Borreca, Star-BulletinWorried that continual helicopter flights to check for marijuana cultivation have become an invasion of privacy, Big Island Sen. Andy Levin wants the state to either modify the flights or stop Operation Green Harvest.The Big Island's marijuana eradication program has been going on since 1976. State and county law enforcement officers fly over rural areas and cane fields looking for marijuana patches, but Big Islanders have complained for years that the flights are noisy, scare livestock and invade privacy.So Levin, Senate Ways and Means Committee co-chairman, canceled money for Operation Green Harvest unless the state meets with Big Island communities affected by the flights."I don't believe there should be a continuing Green Harvest," Levin said. "But I am hoping to start a dialogue where community can voice concerns and officials will be in position to listen."Gary Moniz, chief of enforcement for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said the state knows about Levin's provision in the budget and says it will comply with the meeting requirement."There is a concern from the community caused by the noise," he said. "We are concerned, so whenever we do fly, we actively try to avoid residences."Levin said if the state can hold meetings and reach agreement with residents in his sprawling district which represents the southern half of the Big Island, he would agree to continuing Operation Green Harvest.The provision included in the budget states that "no state funds shall be expended ... for Operation Green Harvest or other marijuana eradication programs that involve the use of helicopters" until the state holds a public hearing on the Big Island and "adopts procedures for the use of helicopters that address the concerns of those living in the areas over which the helicopters fly.""If it can be modified in a way that the community can accept, I wouldn't mind it continuing," he said.But he added that "there are too many complaints to ignore."There are too many complaints from responsible, middle-class residents to write this off as just marijuana dealers complaining," Levin said.Moniz, however, said the state is accused of all noise violations in the area, including times when the state-leased helicopters are not even on the island."If there is a way we can change our activities, we will, but we are already obeying all the regulations for low-flying aircraft," Moniz said.The Issue: The Big Island marijuana eradication campaign is threatened by a decision of the Hawaii County Council and a state senator's condition for the release of state funds. Our View: Developments indicate progress for the campaign to legalize marijuana.Published: May 8, 2000 2000 Honolulu Star-BulletinRelated Articles & Web Sites:Drug Policy Forum Of Hawaii Medical Marijuana Institute Lawmakers Approve Bill on Medical Use Of Marijuana Marijuana Act Passes Senate Approves Medical Marijuana Bill 
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Comment #1 posted by Dankhank on May 08, 2000 at 22:14:50 PT
Wonderful ...........
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