Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Burning Kentucky's Illegal Weed: A Ride-Along With the Cannabis Cops

There's a corps of Kentucky law officers that enforces marijuana laws, and busts and destroys illegal growing operations throughout the state, with funding from the federal government. In 2009, the Kentucky State Police Cannabis Suppression Branch eradicated 330,699 plants, arrested 483 cultivators, and seized $966,078 in forfeitable assets, according to kentuckystatepolice.org. The busts come even as pot gains acceptance nationwide. So far, four states permit recreational pot sales, while in 23 you can buy marijuana for medical uses. Photographs by Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

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    Illegal marijuana plants seized by the Kentucky State Police Cannabis Suppression Branch are destroyed.

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    A Kentucky National Guardsman rappels from a helicopter in Burnside to avoid damaging the soybean crops. Illegal marijuana patches are often hidden among innocent farmers' crops.

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    State troopers with the Cannabis Branch examine an illegal marijuana patch hidden in a cornfield in Burnside.

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    A state trooper with the cannabis cops carries illegal marijuana plants seized in Pine Knot.

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    Illegal pot plants in Pine Knot.

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    A Guardsman pours fuel on the plants. The team burned close to a $1 million worth of pot in this bonfire alone.

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    Illegal marijuana plants seized by the Kentucky State Police Cannabis Suppression Branch burn in Bronston.

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    A state trooper carries illegal marijuana plants seized in Pine Knot.

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    Cookie Monster adorns a Humvee used by the cannabis cops.

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    Everything from pipe bombs, to punji sticks, to bear traps has been found at marijuana patches to deter intruders. The devices are displayed in the team's briefing room in London, Ky.

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    A state trooper displays a bag of seized marijuana in Pine Knot.