Overwhelmed by illegal cannabis, Oregon County declares an emergency

Salem, Oregon (AP) — A county in southern Oregon said it was overwhelmed by the growing number and size of illegal marijuana farms, declared an emergency on Wednesday, and sought help from the governor and legislative leaders. I am.

The Jackson County Commission has overwhelmed law enforcement officers, county and state regulators, and law enforcement officers, warning of “an imminent threat to civil health and safety due to illegal cannabis production in the county.” Said.

Illegal marijuana cultivation has become a persistent problem throughout the west, even in states that have legalized pots, such as California. However, megadroughts throughout the west have created urgency. Illegal growers steal waterDeprive increasingly valuable resources of legitimate users, including farmers and homeowners.

“Jackson County urges your help in dealing with this emergency,” the Commissioner said in a letter to Governor Kate Brown, Speaker of the House Peter Courtney and Speaker of the House Tina Cotec. ..

According to the Commissioner, only four full-time employees of the Oregon Department of Water Resources handle complaints and perform all other duties in Jackson County and adjacent Josephine County.

Josephine County was also injured by illegal cultivation that drained streams and sucked up groundwater. Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel believes that there are hundreds of illegal operations in his county alone. A man with 72,000 marijuana plants drawing water from the Illinois River was attacked after the dying man working there was dropped into a nearby village.

In 2014, Oregon voters legalized the manufacture, processing, sale, and use of recreational marijuana on ballots. Pot businesses must be registered by a state that enforces compliance with the rules. However, some producers and processors remain outside the scope of the law, and in Jackson and Josephine counties seeking significant profits by selling in the black market outside Oregon while avoiding state taxes and regulations. The recent influx of outsiders has been added.

Illegal marijuana farms often pretend to be legal hemp farms, the commissioner pointed out. The Oregon Department of Health and the Oregon Liquor Cannabis Commission recently found that nearly 50% of registered cannabis farms tested in the state illegally grow marijuana, with a legal limit on THC content (a compound that gives cannabis highs). Reported that it exceeded.

About 25% of registered cannabis farms have denied inspectors access, state officials said. Sheriff agents often seized firearms as illegal marijuana busts grew.

By September of this year, Jackson County Law Enforcement had launched approximately 700 code violations related to marijuana production or processing. This is more than double that of 2016 as a whole, the Commissioner said in an urgent declaration.

In response to the Commissioner’s letter, Brown spokesman Charles Boyle said the governor took these concerns very seriously.

He said Brown was a team of multiple agencies to implement the law after the state legislature passed a bill this year aimed at changing the way the state regulates the hemp industry and curbing the illegal production of cannabis. I made.

She also approved doubling the size of cannabis law enforcement grants in the region and instructed Oregon police to allocate additional resources.

“The message is clear. Oregon has no business in growing illegal cannabis. They deplete water resources and keep the workforce inhumane during the state’s drought. A criminal company that seriously damages the legitimate cannabis market. “

Cotec spokesman Danny Moran said he was considering issues raised by Jackson County Commissioner Rick Dyer, Dave Dotterer, and Colleen Roberts. I’m looking forward to further discussions with him. “

Commissioners said their law enforcement staff needed three to nine officers. More officers are needed to determine the amount of citations. The sheriff’s office requires 34 staff, including 18 detectives. The State Department of Water Resources also requires three full-time staff dedicated to investigating water-related complaints.

To reach these levels, Commissioners have removed additional state officials, state funding for counties to hire employees and contractors, and the removal of local tax bans on registered legitimate marijuana businesses. I asked.

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