NY state police seizures of marijuana plants fall sharply

A file image shows a cannabis flower on Nov. 10, 2020 in Kasese, Uganda. Uganda is one of several African countries looking to produce medical cannabis for export to Europe and America. (Photo by Luke Dray/Getty Images)

New York State Police seizures of marijuana plants have plunged this year as the state legalized possession of small amounts of pot and some local law enforcement agencies backed off efforts to root out marijuana crops, according to a published report.

For years, state police have deployed helicopters to help local police and sheriffs spot and seize pot grown in large quantities.

In the first nearly 10 months of this year, the state police aviation unit seized 1,628 plants, resulting in four arrests — compared to 4,242 plants and 152 arrests last year, the Times Union of Albany reported Friday.

There were 107 arrests and 2,711 plants seized in 2019.

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In March, New York made it legal for adults to possess up to 3 ounces (85 grams) of marijuana. Regulations to allow homegrown pot and commercial cultivation and sales of marijuana for recreational use are in the works. The state already has licensed commercial growing operations for medical marijuana.

The state police told the newspaper their "mission has always been to eradicate large, illegal marijuana grows, and that work will continue."

But some local law enforcement leaders have been scaling back on efforts to go after pot growing.

"If somebody calls us, we’ll usually send our drone team out to take a peek at it," Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said. "But I really don’t waste the resources going hunting for it."