Oregon Allots $25M To Combat Illicit Cannabis Grows

High Times

Lawmakers in Oregon have passed legislation to address the state’s burgeoning illicit cannabis cultivation industry, allotting $25 million to help law enforcement and community organizations fight illegal cannabis growing operations. Oregon voters legalized recreational marijuana and authorized regulated cannabis production and sales in 2014. Since then, illegal cultivation operations have popped up in droves, particularly in Klamath, Jackson, and Josephine Counties in the southern portion of the state. State Sen. Jeff Golden, who worked to get the bill added to the agenda for a one-day legislative special session last week, said that some rural areas of Oregon are “military-weapons zones, like the ones we usually associate with failed states.” Golden said that many of the illegal cultivation operations are run by criminal cartels that are guilty of human trafficking, labor abuses, intimidation of local residents and theft of water during a persistent drought. “Illegal cannabis operations in southern Oregon have been using our limited water supply, abusing local workers, threatening neighbors and negatively impacting businesses run by legal marijuana growers,” Golden added. The measure, Senate Bill 893, was passed by Oregon state lawmakers on December 13 and signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown the following day. The new law establishes a $25 million “Illegal Marijuana Market Enforcement Grant Program” to assist local police, sheriff’s departments and other organizations address the illegal cannabis cultivation in their communities, including $5 million earmarked for the enforcement of water rights. Local law enforcement agencies that receive grants from the program will be required to work with community-based groups to address labor trafficking.  Earlier this year, Golden and state Reps. Pam Marsh and Lily Morgan wrote to a letter to the governor calling for help to fight illegal cannabis cultivation in Oregon’s Rogue Valley. “The damaging impacts, including human trafficking of a labor force…

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Source : Oregon Allots M To Combat Illicit Cannabis Grows

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