Legal cannabis growers dissatisfied with illegal operations in Oregon

Salem, Oregon (AP) — Licensed cannabis grower Amanda Metsler is afraid of members of an armed cartel running an illegal marijuana farm in her area, so security around her property Strengthen and no longer go out after dark. On the other side of the street.

Vineyard owner Erin Miller said the illegal sites have seduced so many field workers that vine growers and wineries are suffering from labor shortages, especially at the time of harvest.

Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler says crime rates associated with thousands of illegal marijuana farms in southern Oregon this year have passed through the roof.

“We have experienced puncture wounds, robbery, theft, robbery, murder, sex crimes, car accidents and DUIs associated with the influx of marijuana cannabis industry in our valley,” said Sickler. .. “That’s certainly the problem we deal with on a daily basis here.”

The three were one of the witnesses who testified Tuesday in front of a committee of the Oregon Legislature to seek help in stopping the proliferation of illegal cultivated land in southern Oregon.

Boldly built last spring in Jackson and Josephine counties, mostly in rural areas near the California border, site managers said rivers, streams, between severe drought and abused migrant workers. Officials said they stole water from the aquifer. ..

Many illegal marijuana farms operate under the guise of legal hemp farms. Stephen Marks, director of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, conducted tests on about 400 self-proclaimed hemp sites from July 28 to mid-September, where most plants give cannabis high prices. Hemp is legally permitted, which he said has shown a large amount of.

“Therefore, as a result, 54% of all our successful tests were positive, which was a marijuana estimate,” Marks said.

The administrator of 73 sites told state inspectors to leave and banned access. Many sites are protected by shooters.

Sickler described the “explosion of growth” on a marijuana farm.

“Jackson County doesn’t have the resources to deal with such things,” Sickler told the Interim Committee on Economic Recovery and Prosperity.

Democrat Pammarsh from Ashland, Jackson County also agreed.

“On the ground, these structures are ubiquitous, and in many cases little effort has been made to protect them from public visibility, but it was shocking,” Marsh said. increase.

Officials say there aren’t enough inspectors to test THC content on each site to determine what is legal and what isn’t. Police said they were incapable of attacking all suspicious sites and required an investigation and investigation warrant for each attack.

“First and foremost, we need to allocate a lot of money to support law enforcement and compliance operations,” Marsh told the Commission. Josephine County may have similar needs. “

Miller, chairman of the Oregon Wine Council, said the vineyards are also feeling the effects of illegal cannabis farms.

“Especially during the peak harvest season, we are already faced with the challenge of finding enough workers to support our business,” Miller said. “The unfair and often illegal labor practices of these illegal acts exacerbate the problem by paying workers in cash at much higher wages than we do in compliance with all labor laws. “

Shooters are now preying on illegal farms and marijuana processing sites, as large amounts of marijuana have recently been harvested and illegal businesses are primarily cash.

“Crew crews from eight different states have come to Jackson County to monetize the burglary of individuals associated with marijuana farms or the marijuana industry,” Sickler said.

Chairman John Livery said the members would draft a bill to help the situation. But he pointed out that the next legislative session, which begins in February, is short, lasting only a month, and that many bills have little time to pass both the Commission and the House and Senate.

“Therefore, the more complex the law, the more problems it will have,” Lively said. “So how many issues do you try to address in a short session and do not address them compared to other issues?”

Marsh warned that there would be no quick fix.

“We know that it will take a lot of effort, perhaps three to five years, before we can expect the problem to be resolved,” she said.

Illegal farms produce large amounts of marijuana and are sold outside the state. Authorities believe that foreign cartels chose southern Oregon because it is part of the legendary marijuana-grown emerald triangle, a zone where California’s Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties form a major part. increase.

Federal drug agents and representatives of the US law firm in Oregon met with local law enforcement agencies and other officials on Tuesday to hear about the challenges they face.

Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel called it “the first coordinating meeting between institutions.”

“We are all so heavily influenced by the illegal market that we need to work together as much as possible,” Daniel said in an email. “The illegal marijuana market has no borders or boundaries.”


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