Oregon county seeks state financial help to curb illegal cannabis firms

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A county sheriff in southwest Oregon is asking for money from the state to investigate illegal marijuana operations, saying his department lacks the resources to do so.

Any closure of illegal operators could benefit licensed MJ businesses, which often are undercut by such enterprises. Shutting down illegal cultivators also would reduce supplies.

Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel said he needs $648,000 to help fund a team of detectives, The Daily Courier newspaper of Grants Pass reported.

Daniel said illegal marijuana operations can hide as legal ones, and can go undetected without a task force dedicated to finding them.

The county would pitch in $350,000 to help form the team, the newspaper reported.

Recreational and medical marijuana production and sales are legal in Oregon, subject to licensing and regulation. Overproduction of legal marijuana has caused prices to plummet, creating a greater incentive for illegal marijuana operations to proliferate, and for smuggling of product to other states for bigger profits.

A bill passed by the Legislature this year assists cities and counties with costs incurred by law enforcement agencies in addressing unlawful marijuana cultivation or distribution operations.

Licensed marijuana companies in the state would like to see more law enforcement action taken against the illegal growers to help bolster the legal market.

County officials identified nearly 300 marijuana grow properties with code violations, including illegal camping, sewage dumping, erosion problems, electrical issues and unpermitted structures, Daniel said.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has agreed to assign an agent to work with the proposed team, Daniel noted.

Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily