Monday, May 7, 2001

Marijuana spraying
campaign continues

Hawaii County adopts
formal rules regarding
hand-picking plants

By Rod Thompson
Big Isle correspondent

HILO >> The rules for marijuana eradication have not changed, but Hawaii County Councilman Gary Safarik says state and county law enforcement officials have a renewed commitment to them.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources recently adopted rules for state marijuana missions, making them policy. Before that, rules and procedures had long existed but were put in place informally by program administrators.

In March the Hawaii County Council also formally adopted county rules.

"I feel good about the direction the state is moving. It's the same direction as the county," Safarik said.

The rules were designed to respond to residents' complaints regarding how low helicopters fly in eradication missions and how they spray herbicides.

In a recent county mission, police received only one complaint, Safarik said.

Departing from past practice, police investigated it the same day, he said. They determined the complaint was unfounded.

The state sprays glyphosate (Roundup) on marijuana plants on state land, usually in forests, and its officers do hand-cutting of plants if they are within 1,000 feet of homes. The county does only hand-cutting on private, unoccupied land, no spraying.

Residents have complained that the sprayed poison can drift a thousand feet and contaminate their home water supplies.

Gary Moniz, head of the state enforcement, said that is impossible.

The nozzles used for spraying create large, heavy droplets that fall, not a mist that drifts, he said.

A slight breeze provides better spraying conditions because it blows the helicopter downdraft away from the spray area, Moniz said.

These and other practices were affirmed in the newly adopted state rules.

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