Two Oregon counties have declared a local state of emergency regarding cannabis, allowing them to place moratoriums on issuing new hemp licenses, the Mail Tribune reports. The orders in Jackson and Josephine counties are retroactive to January 1 and all applications submitted since the New Year will be denied.
Jackson County Senior Deputy Administrator Harvey Bragg told the Mail Tribune that county officials “need to kind of get a time-out” so they can catch up on applications and enforcement. Last year, state inspectors found 53% of licensed hemp grown in Jackson and Josephine counties were illegally growing cannabis under the guise of hemp, the report says.
Throughout 2021, law enforcement agencies in Southern Oregon have uncovered a host of issues at illegal cannabis grows, including workers living in poor conditions, water theft in a region hit hard by drought, improper use of pesticides and other chemicals, garbage, electrical hazards, and evidence of drug trafficking. Officials believe organized crime networks are backing many of the illegal cultivation sites.
A Mail Tribune investigation found that law enforcement agencies in Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, and Douglas counties found illegal cannabis with an estimated value of at least $2.78 billion in the unregulated market. In all, the state sold $1.2 billion worth of cannabis through licensed shops last year.
A recently approved Oregon law requires the state to deny any applications for new hemp licenses in counties that declare a state of emergency related to cannabis. Other bills passed in the state to deal with problems related to cannabis include funding to organizations that help exploited workers and a ban on hauling water to unlicensed grows.
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