With some of the state's most productive corn and hay crops, and a beautiful topiary garden that draws tourists from out of state, Harford County is home to many residents skilled at coaxing things from the earth. Some of these green-thumbs, however, would rather you didn't know their identities. They're growing marijuana.
Harford County is the state leader in this cash crop -- an ignominious honor, for sure. "We have sat back and scratched our heads for years over that one. Why Harford County?" says Sgt. Eugene Winters, who coordinates the Marijuana Eradication Program for the state police. The unit has even brought in analysts to develop grower profiles to try to solve that puzzlement.
During 1991, the eradication program, which compiles local, state and federal data, counted 45 "finds" in Harford -- a fifth of the state total. Those investigations uncovered 1,093 plants in 125 marijuana gardens and led to five arrests. The county with the next highest number of finds was much larger Baltimore County with 24. No other county listed more than 18 finds, although one uncovered garden in Somerset County on the lower Eastern Shore was a doozy, turning up 2,342 plants.