Farmers urged to be on the lookout for marijuana

newspaperFarmers in Southwest Virginia are being urged to check their property for marijuana planted by trespassers.

Within the past year, hundreds of marijuana plants have been discovered between rows of hay bales on farms in and around Pulaski County, according to the Claytor Lake Regional Drug Task Force.

“Unfortunately this is a growing trend,” said Cpl.Barbara Owens of the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, a member of the task force. “Not only are the marijuana plants an issue, but what is more concerning is there are people trespassing on farmers’ property.”

Owens recently spoke at a Pulaski County Farm Bureau board of directors meeting to apprise area farmers of the issue.

Hay bales, which typically are left unattended during the summer, can provide good protection from the elements for strategically planted marijuana, Owens said.

“We are asking farmers to take a look at the areas where they keep their hay bales and to just keep an eye out. If they see something suspicious, they should notify the authorities immediately.”

The Claytor Lake Regional Drug Task Force is made up of law enforcement officers from the Virginia State Police, Pulaski and Wythe counties and the towns of Pulaski and Dublin. In 2015, Virginia State Police marijuana eradication efforts resulted in destruction of 36,574 plants statewide.