OWENSBORO, KY — Kentucky State Police helicopters will return to the skies in search of marijuana fields as part of the agency’s annual marijuana eradication campaign.
Rising fuel costs and a shrinking eradication budget will force the helicopters out of the air sooner than in years past, and the agency plans on reducing blanket flights in search of marijuana fields, instead focusing their attention on areas where marijuana has been found growing in the past.
Police helicopters cost about $200 per hour to fly, making the program an expensive tool in the war against marijuana.
The program, which lasts for about a week in conjunction with the Kentucky State Police and the National Guard will focus on the Eastern part of the state.
Even police officials admit the program barely makes a dent in Kentucky’s underground marijuana growing, which is widespread due partly to the ideal growing conditions in the state.
Kentucky State Trooper Corey King said so much marijuana is grown in eastern Kentucky that most of the plots they find through the program are grown as decoys, while the actual crop is hidden, grown elsewhere.
“They intentionally grow large areas for our suppression team to find,” King said. “It takes the focus off other areas.”
The helicopter program will also investigate suspected marijuana grows as reported by tips from the public.