NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Illegal marijuana still exists in Connecticut, despite recreational use being legalized.

News 8 rode along with Connecticut State Police to discover how specialized, undercover detectives take to the sky to spot illegal operations.

“It’s human nature when you see the laws have been relaxed to push the envelope a little bit and do more than what’s allowed,” a sergeant told News 8.

Although recreational use is now legal, it remains illegal to grow marijuana outside. Cultivating the plant, and operating a drug factory, are felonies.

As it stands right now, Connecticut law allows medical marijuana patients who are 18 years and older to grow up to three mature and three immature plants at home. All adults over 21 will be able to grow under the same rules starting in July 2023. Those plants must be grown inside and not be visible from the street. Retail sales are expected to start later this year.

With the help of a Massachusetts National Guard helicopter, investigators can crack down on cannabis cultivators. Each fully grown plant can yield between one to two pounds of the product, which is worth between $1,500 and $3,000 on the street.

This mission was part of an ongoing effort by the Connecticut State Police Bureau of Special Investigations’ Statewide Narcotics Taskforce to limit illegal sales and unregulated transactions. 

On the ground, detectives pulled up to these homes, spoke with the people who live there, and cut down the plants to stop a distribution at its source. The plants are now in the possession of the Connecticut State Police, who will work with the Connecticut State’s Attorney’s Office to decide if arrest warrants will be pursued.