Special Sections » 25th Anniversary Issue

Homegrown

Originally written by Peter Eichenberger, Aug. 19, 2000

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My Viking soul had been telling me for weeks that something was about to go down — the feeling was getting stronger and stronger.

"It will come tonight," I told my photographer friend, Michael Traister. That very night, the TV announced "it" and the next day North Carolina launched a fleet of helicopters.

I had called the start of "Operation Bladerunner," the state's air and ground marijuana eradication program, almost to the hour.

Suddenly, there were choppers dropping in on friends living in the country, choppers doing night sweeps over Raleigh — choppers everywhere. After a few days of this, I picked up the phone. I had to find out.

So begins the late Peter Eichenberger's riveting story on the ongoing drug-war skirmishes, including "Operation Bladerunner," which sought to eradicate North Carolina's illegal, highly profitable marijuana crop.

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The week the story published, a young waitress was pulled over and her car searched after an Iredell County cop spotted a copy of Creative Loafing, which had a pot leaf on the cover, in the backseat.

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