Illegal marijuana grows masquerading as hemp cultivation have become such an issue in Jackson County, Oregon, its Board of Commissioners have declared a state of emergency.
While marijuana can be grown in Oregon legally, that is carried out under a program with different rules and regulations to those governing hemp.
The emergency declaration was made on Wednesday last week along with a call for assistance to Oregon’s Governor.
Based on information from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC), the Board states close to 50 percent of registered hemp grows are illegally growing marijuana.
The proportion of those doing so consciously isn’t clear. Hemp can go “hot” unintentionally, i.e., exceed the maximum THC limit. However, a quarter of registered hemp grows are refusing entry to inspectors and just 25 percent of registered hemp grows are operating within legal requirements.
In the Board’s request to the Governor, it wants County Code Enforcement staff numbers to be tripled, more Hearings Officers, an additional 18 detectives, four more patrol deputies, three supervisors and nine support staff, along with approximately three-quarters of a million dollars.
But that’s not all – the State Water Resources Department, OHA and OLCC also need to be beefed up to get on top of the situation says the Board.
“We implore of you, please provide assistance now, before an already out of control situation becomes even worse,” says a letter to the Governor, which can be viewed here.
The following video is a presentation from Jackson County Commissioner Rick Dyer concerning the situation.
Also on Wednesday, Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team (IMET) detectives swooped on a property in Medford, where 3,900 pounds of processed marijuana and 17,500 illegal plants were seized and subsequently destroyed. Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Jackson County Code Enforcement were also on the scene to conduct their own investigations.
“There was no licensing for any type of cannabis growing, handling, or processing at this location,” says a Jackson County Sheriff’s Office statement. “Each agency identified multiple violations that will be addressed by enforcing penalties and fines.”