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Flood Ruins Usual Midwest Marijuana Harvest

September 20, 1993

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) _ The Midwest flooding that drowned so many acres of corn, soybeans and wheat this summer also washed out another cash crop: marijuana.

Authorities say both cultivated plots and wild fields of the illegal weed got socked by the record rainfall and flooding.

″If the water’s up for very long, it’s more effective than spraying,″ said Charles Sexson, who heads the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s narcotics division. ″There’s much less of it this year.″

The amount of marijuana destroyed by law officers in Kansas this year is one-fifth as much as in 1992, he said. Crops also are down throughout Missouri, based on searches by airplane and from tips, said Lt. Jim Watson of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

In Buchanan County, Mo., one of the Midwest’s prime pot growing areas near the Kansas state line, the usual flow of out-of-state pickers of wild marijuana has stopped.

″The word’s gotten around about the weather, so they’re not showing up,″ said Maj. Earl Stout of the sheriff’s department.

Stout estimated that the size of the marijuana crop and arrests of pot harvesters in the county dropped by about half this year.

Two years ago a bust of marijuana pickers revealed that maps were being sold in Florida showing where the best crop could be picked in Buchanan County. Similar maps of wild pot in Kansas have turned up in Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma.

While cultivated marijuana is more potent - and expensive - the vastly more plentiful wild marijuana is very much in demand, often picked by the truckful and mixed with imported crops. In Missouri alone last year, officials destroyed an estimated 21 million wild plants - worth an estimated $4.2 billion.

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