OR county gets grant to battle marijuana growers harvesting more than license limits

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An Oregon county’s sheriff’s office will use state grant money to go after legal growers that harvest more than their license allows as well as black-market marijuana producers.

The nearly $600,000 grant from a new program will pay for three detectives, one crime analyst and a part-time prosecutor in Jackson County, the Mail Tribune reported.

That’s in addition to a three-year federal grant of $250,000 that pays for two more deputies tasked with marijuana enforcement.

Jackson County is in a prime climate for outdoor marijuana cultivation and struggles with illicit grows.

Sheriff Nate Sickler said the money will be used to go after legal growers producing more than allowed under their license from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) or permitted under the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program.

Oregon has been under pressure to address the oversupplied cannabis sector and has received greater scrutiny from the state’s U.S. attorney, Billy Williams, who has tied the oversupply situation to the diversion of marijuana to the black market.

State lawmakers created the grant program this year to help cannabis-friendly parts of the state address those problems.

The money gives rural counties the resources to investigate black-market activity and to show the federal government the state is serious about dealing with illegal grows.

But during the summer months, deputies respond to many complaints from residents about odors or what they think are illegal grows.

In addition, officials will focus on investigating illegal grows that affect water agencies as well as more complicated money-laundering schemes.

Hemp grows that are concealing illegal drug-level cannabis plants also will be targeted.

Sickler said Oregon marijuana has been shipped illegally to 37 different states that police know of.

– Associated Press