MEDFORD, Ore. – It’s been almost a week since Jackson County declared a State of Emergency due to the illegal marijuana activity in the area. NBC5 News asked Governor Kate Brown about the declaration. Here’s her response:
The Governor takes these concerns very seriously. After working to pass HB 3000 in direct response to this issue, Governor Brown immediately created a multi-agency team to implement the legislation. This team has been hard at work in the region during harvest season. Additionally, and after conversations with local leaders, the Governor directed OSP to specifically dedicate additional resources to multi-agency operations. Finally, Governor Brown authorized doubling the size of dedicated cannabis law enforcement grants in the region. These resources are intended to hit the ground prior to the 2022 growing season.
In addition, the Oregon Military Department has an annual Counter Drug plan in place—funded by the DOD—that is signed by the Governor, Attorney General, and Maj Gen Stencel. Through this plan, my understanding is that OMD has a full-time National Guard service member embedded in three teams in Southern Oregon: one with the OSP Marijuana Taskforce based out of Medford; one with the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Medford Office; and one with the Klamath County High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force. Additionally, new this year, OMD has an aviation program running with two pilots that has already flown missions in support of law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
The message is clear––Oregon is not open for business to illegal cannabis grows. These are criminal enterprises that deplete water resources while our state is in drought, hold their workforce in inhumane conditions, and severely harm our legal cannabis marketplace.
Because the current growing season is drawing to a close—and because ONG members are currently deployed to support our hospitals due to the Delta surge—we are not considering deploying additional resources this year. The Governor remains concerned about the situation and will continue to monitor what resources might be needed for the 2022 growing season.
© 2023 KOBI-TV NBC5. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.