Newsbrief: Marijuana Advocate Sues Over Hawaii Aerial Eradication Program 5/31/02

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Longtime Hawaii marijuana advocate Roger Christie, who previously won a $75,000 out-of-court settlement after being arrested for possession of legal hemp seeds, has filed suit against all members of the Hawaii County Council over the council's continuing failure to review the county's marijuana eradication program, known as "Green Harvest."

At its peak, Green Harvest eradicated more than a million marijuana plants each year, but the program has drawn sustained and vociferous opposition, not only from marijuana advocates but also from citizens who complained of being buzzed by low-flying helicopters, subjected to drifting herbicide sprays and assaulted by SWAT-style eradication teams.

Thanks to the efforts of Christie and other "usual suspects" at government hearings, the county foreswore a $265,000 DEA grant for Green Harvest in September 2000 after the council was threatened with impeachment. The program restarted in a limited fashion in March 2001, with restrictions including a ban on aerial spraying and limits on how close to homes helicopters can fly or police can rapel from them. Last year, Hawaii police complained that their seizures had shrunk dramatically, but complaints of police abuses continued.

Fellow marijuana activist Jonathan Adler told the Honolulu Advertiser that eradication program critics would also seek the removal of council members for failing to uphold the charter, which require such programs to be audited every four years. No audit has been done on Green Harvest.

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