Cracking down on -- and celebrating -- the Catskills pot harvest

Above: Cannabis sativa, ready for its closeup. Photo by Flickr user Sandra Nahdi, published under Creative Commons license.

With the local marijuana crop getting ready for harvest, it's also the season for big pot busts.

For three days last week, the Daily Mail reports today, law enforcement officers searched Greene County high and low for illicit pot growers. (Mostly high, we're guessing.)

The results? 515 pot plants found in eight Greene County towns, and 11 arrests either made or pending. Plants were found in Durham, Windham, Coxsackie, New Baltimore, Jewett, Cairo and Hunter.

The sweep was a joint effort between the Greene County Sheriff's Office and other local and state agencies, the Daily Mail reports:

A total of 515 marijuana plants were located with the assistance of National Guard Counter Drug helicopters and New York State Power Authority aviation units. Plants were located in multiple locations throughout Greene County...

...Additional agencies that assisted in the operation included members of the New York State Police BCI, New York State Police C-Net, New York State Environmental Conservation, New York State Forest Rangers, Town of Durham Police Department, Town of Cairo Police Department, Town of Windham Police Department and the Town of Hunter Police Department.

Cannabis may not be a legal industry in the Catskills, but it is alive and well. In fact, this year, the New York Harvest Fest and Freedom Fair, an annual concert whose proceeds benefit legalization efforts, will be held -- where else? -- at Kutcher's Country Club in Monticello, former home of the famous All Tomorrow's Parties music festival.

The festival runs from October 12 through 15, and will feature Pete Seeger performing with the locally beloved duo Mike + Ruthy in the lineup. Also appearing among the guest speakers: New Paltz mayor Jason West and Jessica Abrams of local renewable energy company Green In Greene.