Salem, Oregon (AP) – A county in southern Oregon says it is so overwhelmed by the increase in the number and size of illegal cannabis farms that it declared a state of emergency Wednesday, according to the governor and legislature. He appealed to the leaders for help.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners said law enforcement officers and county and state regulators and code enforcers are overwhelmed and warned that “the illegal production of cannabis in our county is detrimental to the public health and safety of our citizens.” There is danger. ”
Illegal marijuana cultivation has been a constant problem throughout the West, even in states like California that have legalized the cannabis. Mega-drafts have created a state of emergency across the West, even as illegal farmers steal water, increasingly depriving legal consumers, including farmers and homeowners, of valuable resources.
The commissioners said in a letter to Gov. Kate Brown, Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek, “Jackson County strongly requests your help in dealing with this emergency.
The commissioners said only four full-time employees of the Oregon Water Resources Department handle complaints and perform all of their duties in Jackson County and neighboring Josephine County.
Josephine County has also been affected by illegal development, which has drained drains and stripped groundwater. Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniels believes there are hundreds of illegal activities in his county alone. A man who was pumping water from the Illinois River with 72,000 cannabis plants was raided when a dead man working there was dropped off at a nearby village.
Oregon voters legalized the production, processing, sale and use of recreational marijuana in ballot measurement in 2014. The vessel business must be registered by the state, which enforces the law. But some farmers and processors live outside the law, with the recent influx of outsiders into Jackson and Josephine counties seeking large profits by selling on the black market outside of Oregon, avoiding state taxes and regulations.
The commissioners noted that illegal forms of cannabis often appear as legal cannabis forms. The Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission recently reported that 50 percent of registered cannabis farms in the state illegally grow cannabis, which contains THC content – a compound that gives cannabis more – legally. More
About 25 percent of registered cannabis farms refused entry to inspectors, state agencies said. In the spread of illegal marijuana, sheriff’s deputies often carry firearms.
As of September of this year, the Jackson County Code Enforcement Division has initiated approximately 7,700 cases of code violations related to the production or processing of marijuana, more than doubling in 2016.
Reacting to the commissioner’s letter, Brown’s spokesman Charles Boyle said the governor took the concerns very seriously.
He noted that after the legislature passed a bill this year that regulated the state’s cannabis industry and aimed to curb illicit cannabis production, Brown set up a multi-agency team to enforce the legislation. Of
It also allowed the size of cannabis law enforcement grants in the region to be doubled and directed the Oregon State Police to allocate additional resources.
“The message is clear – Oregon is not open for business to grow illegal cannabis,” Boyle said. “These are criminal businesses that deplete water resources while our state is in a state of drought, inhumanely deploying their manpower and severely damaging our legal cannabis market.”
For his part, Cotec spokesman Danny Moran said his office was reviewing issues raised by Jackson County Commission chair Rick Dyer and commissioners Dave Duterte and Colin Roberts, and “about the best way forward.” I look forward to further discussions. ”
The commissioners said their code enforcement staff needed three officers. More officers are needed to decide the volume of referrals. The sheriff’s office needs 34 more staff, including 18 detectives. And the state’s water resources department needs three more full-time staff dedicated to investigating water-related complaints only.
To reach these levels, the commissioners called for state funding to hire additional state employees, county employees and contractors, and to lift the local tax ban on registered, legal cannabis businesses.