Oregon lawmakers earmark $25 million to combat illicit marijuana grows

Oregon lawmakers set aside $25 million to crack down on illegal marijuana grows, which have become a major issue in the state.

According to Medford, Oregon, TV station KDRV, the Legislature approved two bills related to fighting illicit cannabis cultivation:

  • One measure will fund enforcement efforts against illicit cannabis farms.
  • The other will bolster existing law enforcement capabilities with respect to humanitarian aid for migrant workers exploited by illegal marijuana growers.

The bills were approved as part of a special legislative session intended to address issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The cannabis funding includes $20 million for the state’s Illegal Marijuana Market Enforcement Grant Program and $5 million for the state Water Resources Department to combat water theft.

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“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,” state Sen. Jeff Golden told KDRV.

“This is urgent funding we need right now to protect our agriculture industry.”

Western states have been grappling with an increasing number of illegal marijuana grow sites, which are often used by criminal gangs that ship the cannabis to states where marijuana prohibition is still in effect.

In addition to Oregon, the problem has been ongoing in California and Washington state.