Pubdate: Wed, 11 Sep 2002
Source: West Hawaii Today (HI)
Contact:  2002 West Hawaii Today
Author: Tiffany Edwards
Note: For more on medical cannabis and cannabis eradication in Hawaii go to


HILO - Some councilmembers are questioning whether police are abiding by the
rules they adopted as a condition of this county accepting federal money for
marijuana eradication. 

At their finance committee meeting Tuesday, three of them - Curtis Tyler of
Kona, Gary Safarik of Puna, and Julie Jacobson, representing Puna, Ka'u and
South Kona - referred to photographs of low-flying helicopters used in
marijuana eradications, which they received from Pastor Don Eads, the
founder of Hawaii Medical Marijuana Association. 

Eads also gave councilors two petitions, one signed by 59 Puna residents
calling for a stop to the "Green Harvest, and another signed by 47 residents
of the Puna Beach Palisades subdivision referring to an "extremely
intrusive" July 18 marijuana eradication mission. 

"If, in the future, it becomes necessary for the DEA, Hilo Vice, Hilo
police, or any other law enforcement agency to make an incursion into Puna
Beach Palisades, that it be done from the ground. The low-level flying of
helicopters as support for law enforcement agents is intrusive beyond
measure, conjures up very strong community resentment, and is simply
unnecessary in an easily accessed subdivision such as ours," the petition

Jacobson described the helicopter photographs and the petitions as
"compelling evidence" that the rules and regulations are not being followed.
A resident of Puna herself, Jacobson said "the choppers seem lower" than
they previously have been.

According to the rules, helicopters used in the Green Harvest are to
maintain an altitude of 1,000 feet when flying over "homes, buildings, urban
and rural areas used mainly for family dwellings and immediate areas where
livestock is contained." 

Only when there is probable cause marijuana is being cultivated can a
helicopter descend to an altitude of 500 feet, the rules state. 

Helicopters can descend below 500 feet to "insert and extract police
personnel from marijuana fields and to remove harvested marijuana plants and
equipment," according to the rules. 

Jacobson suggested the council "put some teeth into the rules" to address
any violations. 

Kohala Councilman Leningrad Elarionoff, however, told his colleagues they
"can't draw conclusions based on one side."

However, no police officers were present at the Finance Committee meeting to
field questions.

Finance Committee Chairman Aaron Chung of Hilo, said Acting Police Chief
Lawrence Mahuna plans to attend the next committee meeting to "express his
views" on the marijuana eradication program. It was suggested councilmembers
could ask Mahuna questions then. 

Councilors' discussion on the program stemmed from the fact they took up at
least three marijuana eradication mission reports from police Tuesday,
including one for the June 24 - 28 mission in which 14,425 plants were
seized. That report had been on the agenda for the Finance Committee two
weeks ago but there weren't enough councilmembers present then to vote to
file it.

The two other marijuana eradication reports addressed Tuesday noted a July
15 - 19 mission in East Hawaii netted 9,283 plants and 163 plants were
seized in Alae in South Kona during a mission July 30 - 31.
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