Officials in Oregon continue to crack down on illicit market marijuana, with approximately 24,000 plants seized in the last month alone across the state. 16,000 plants and 1,300 pounds of cannabis were seized from various unlicensed grow ops in Jackson County, with another 8,000 plants total from five separate greenhouses in Douglas County.
Oregon has had problems with illegal grow ops since long before statewide cannabis legalization went into effect in 2014, and their unclear and badly created laws surrounding cannabis cultivation have done nothing to persuade legacy black market growers to turn legal.
Cracking down on illicit cannabis grow ops is not something new to Oregon officials, but this latest wave has been a big one.
Last week, the Illegal Marijuana Enforcement Team, alongside the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, served a search warrant to the owners of a private property located in Eagle’s Point. This particular grow op had been under surveillance for the last month prior to the search warrant being served, where a total of 32 greenhouses were being operated without licenses.
At the search and seizure, a total of 12,000 marijuana plants and 3,000 pounds of processed cannabis were seized, seven workers at the grow op were detained, questioned, and eventually released, and the Sheriff’s Office identified a primary suspect in relation to the operation.
According to the Associated Press, “Citations from county code enforcement totaling $67,000 were also issued for unapproved greenhouse structures, unapproved marijuana production, and unpermitted electrical installations.”
Earlier this month, Jackson County officers conducted another large-scale raid at three more illegal cannabis enterprises. Between these three sites, officials seized 15 weapons, 4,000 mature cannabis plants, and more than 1,300 pounds of illegally processed marijuana, says News10.
Also, in June, five more illegal grow sites were raided, where plants and processed cannabis were seized in Douglas County. Multiple arrests were also made.
According to Kezi 9 ABC News, these include:
- 3,832 cannabis plants from Winston.
- 1,330 plants also in Winston.
- 1,103 plants from the 700 in Roseburg.
- 1,765 plants from Myrtle Creek.
- 757 plants, another illegal grow op in Myrtle Creek.
Bad Laws For Legacy Growers
The biggest issue leading to the large volume of black market cannabis grow operations in Oregon is unclear and poorly put together state laws governing the cultivation and production of marijuana that have left many legacy growers out in the cold.
Recently, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 4016, which “Authorizes Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission to, based on supply of and demand for marijuana, refuse to issue initial marijuana production, processing, wholesale and retail licenses for the amount of time commission determines necessary.”
What this means is that the OLCC now has the authority to, essentially, toss applications for marijuana grower licenses in the trash. When applying for a license with the OLCC, potential growers are now being told that unless they are applying for a Change of Ownership or trying to make a change to an existing license, they’re pretty much SOL.
At the very top of the Marijuana Producer Applications, applicants are faced with this: “With the passage of House Bill 4016 (2022), the Commission is required to inactivate applications for new recreational marijuana Producer, Processor, Retailer, or Wholesaler licenses submitted on or after January 2, 2022, and until March 31, 2024. Unless you are submitting this application as part of a Change of Ownership, other change to an existing licensed premises, or as requested specifically by OLCC staff, your application will be inactivated, and a refund may not be issued for your application fee.”
While the point of HB4016 was, seemingly, to stop the overproduction of cannabis that the state is currently facing, all it actually serves to do is push legacy growers further away from legal operations.
The fact that the state believes this is the way to deal with the large black market cannabis industry in Oregon shows that they’d rather stick their heads in the sand and continue to arrest good people when, instead, they could choose to work with these legacy growers.
In a years-long battle to eradicate black-market marijuana growing operations, Oregon continues to seize massive amounts of plants and processed cannabis from legacy growers. If the state had simply created laws that enticed these legacy growers to “go legal” from the get-go, Oregon wouldn’t be facing such massive illicit market problems.
We expect that, as per usual, nothing will change anytime soon, and, at least until March of 2024, legacy growers can expect to continue to be targeted by law enforcement officials.
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