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Friday, December 15, 2000

Kim cites concerns
over marijuana

Spraying of herbicides
and copter noise disturb
Big Island residents

By Rod Thompson

HILO -- Law-abiding Big Island residents have valid concerns about marijuana eradication efforts, Mayor Harry Kim told the state Board of Land and Natural Resources last night.

"There are people who are totally law-abiding, productive, good people who are truly disturbed by the noise of the helicopters," Kim said.

Yesterday's hearing by the Land Board concerned the state program of spraying marijuana plants with herbicides, using long hoses dangling from helicopters. The hearing was mandated by the Legislature. The board will decide later whether to order changes in procedures.

Kim told the board he fully supports eradication but also supports medical use of marijuana for chronic pain.

Then he turned to a description of Big Island lifestyle for the urban members of the board.

Thousands of people depend on rainwater caught in tanks for their home water supply, Kim said. "Any perceived threat of contamination (from herbicides) of this water is very frightening," he said.

People from a noisy urban environment do not understand that noise from helicopters can frighten rural people and their animals, he said.

Puna community leader Jon Olson said he is against marijuana. "The last thing we need is one more substance to abuse," he said.

But in contradiction of denials made by state officials, Olson said, "I have seen helicopters fly over and spray in subdivisions."

Rural Hawaiian Acres resident Judy Richardson said she shot video of helicopters deliberately buzzing her house after she made video of them at neighboring properties.

Cinny Wenner of Volcano said helicopters fly over their house up to six times a year eradicating wild marijuana. Through skylights in her ceiling, she sees them pass "not that high" above her house.

Some told board members that some officers conducting the eradication are not law-abiding.

"All of us have firsthand knowledge of marijuana being pocketed," said hemp legalization activist Dwight Kondo.

Board member Colbert Matsumoto told Kondo people should report the offenses to police.

No law enforcement representatives testified at the meeting.

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