RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) – Vermont’s marijuana crop has rebounded from last year’s drought, with the Vermont State Police reaping a $4 million harvest.

Lt. Thomas L’Esperance said the department’s marijuana eradication team seized 2,000 marijuana plants as of the end of the last month, many more than the 1,344 plants confiscated by the same date last year.

“The growth season this year was a lot better than last year,” said L’Esperance, head of the State Police drug task force. “There was plenty of rain and a lot of sunny days.”

He said each plant is estimated to produce about a pound of marijuana. A pound of marijuana has a street value of about $2,000, meaning the 2,000 plants seized so far this year would have an street value of about $4 million.

Investigations by the 14-member eradication team led to the arrest of 31 people across the state.

In addition to the weather, L’Esperance credited the amount of effort troopers put into investigating marijuana cultivation for the increase in seized plants.

In one of the larger cases, State Police in August seized 113 marijuana plants in Westmore. The investigation into who put them there is continuing.

L’Esperance said marijuana plants were seized across Vermont and the trend has been toward smaller operations of 15 to 20 plants, using trees and brush for natural barriers.

L’Esperance said police track down the grow sites from a variety of sources, including flyovers by the Vermont Air National Guard and tips from hunters, farmers, landowners and other citizens.

In September, State Police said a flyover uncovered a growing operation and led to cultivation charges against two people in Marshfield. Police seized 36 marijuana plants growing near the home and nine more inside the residence. Police also seized several pounds of processed marijuana from the home.

In addition to the smaller plots, he said marijuana growers are heading inside.

“I think what we’re seeing is more and more of these indoor grow facilities as time goes on,” L’Esperance said.

AP-ES-11-01-03 1136EST

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