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Drug Enforcement Administration shuts down Hawaii island office

By Associated Press


HILO » The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration last month closed an office and airport hangar it maintained in Hilo to cut costs.

The DEA's aviation division will continue to provide support from Hono­lulu, special agent Sarah Pullen told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. It will continue to conduct investigations and assist local law enforcement throughout Hawaii, she said.

The "closure of the Hilo office was part of a Department of Justice mandate to reduce DEA's footprint by closing some offices and saving money. All DOJ components had to identify some offices for closure," Pullen said.

For decades the DEA has helped state and county officials survey and spray Hawaii island marijuana plants from helicopters.

But Hawaii County police Maj. Randy Apele says the county doesn't carry out aerial enforcement anymore. He says the closing won't affect county operations.

"They assist us at times, but we'll be able to make adjustments," he said.

Hawaii consistently ranks among the top states in marijuana plant production, along with California, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The state's nutrient- and mineral-rich volcanic soil creates optimal growing conditions, enabling producers to cultivate several crops per year.

Hawaii County voters in 2008 approved a ballot initiative directing the Hawaii County Council to decline state and federal money for marijuana eradication. The initiative also made personal use of marijuana the lowest priority for county police.

Medical marijuana has been legal in the state for more than a decade. Registered patients may grow small amounts of marijuana or obtain a supply from a caregiver. Sales are prohibited at stores, however. More than half of all registered medical marijuana users are on Hawaii island.

A local medical marijuana activist bid good riddance to the DEA.

"Joy, joy," said Wolf Daniel Braun upon learning the news. Braun is former president of the Peaceful Sky Alliance, a now-disbanded marijuana advocacy group.

"The DEA has been no friend of mine," Braun said, "or of the medical marijuana community."

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Mike174 wrote:
If the DEA had actually went after the meth problem they might have actually done some good but no, the went after the pakalolo users. Stupid.
on November 24,2012 | 06:11AM
allie wrote:
Shutting down makes no sense. . Meth is a public health and safety issue on the wretched Big Island.
on November 24,2012 | 06:57AM
kahu808 wrote:
"wretched Big Island." Now you've insulted an entire island. Troll action.
on November 24,2012 | 07:16PM
soundofreason wrote:
"But Hawaii County police Maj. Randy Apele says the county doesn't carry out aerial enforcement anymore. He says the closing won't affect county operations.">>> Meaning they'll continue not doing what they've already not been doing. Nice.
on November 24,2012 | 08:21AM
noheawilli wrote:
Shutting down is progress, now lets save even more money and close the Honolulu office
on November 24,2012 | 09:01AM
allie wrote:
Forget Mary Jane and go after the Meth that is destroying the Hawaiian people. DEA leaving is a death sentence for many families out here
on November 24,2012 | 09:51AM
cojef wrote:
Cost cutting measure or soft on drugs, whichever. Blame DOJ if things go bad, not Bush.
on November 24,2012 | 10:49AM
808chubs wrote:
With all the illegals here they should have set up ICE in their office. We got more illegals than pakalolo plants.
on November 24,2012 | 03:01PM
HD36 wrote:
Smoking Pot is the best sea sick medicine I've ever come across.
on November 24,2012 | 03:47PM
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