Illinois Valley man, state legislator say illegal cannabis grows are out of control

O’BRIEN, Ore. – An O’Brien resident is asking for help in stopping illegal cannabis grows in rural Josephine Co. Something he told NBC5 News, has gotten worse over the past 3 years. He’s reaching out to state, federal even local officials for assistance.

Long before there were legal cannabis grows, there were illegal ones. Both are now prevalent in Southern Oregon, especially in the Illinois Valley.

“It wouldn’t be a problem if only legal operations were operating. But the vast majority of these are illegal,” said Gordon Lyford.

Lyford has lived in O’Brien for nearly 30 years. But he said in the last three years, illegal grows became a problem in his community.

“They move intake over an area, they clear off all the vegetation,” said Lyford.

But keeping up with the illegal activities isn’t easy for state or local officials.

“A few months ago Sheriff Daniel brought to me the concern over the amount of illegal grows or grows that have licenses that are growing outside the regulations that are there and the lack of enforcement from the state,” said State Rep. Lily Morgan.

State Rep. Morgan said she’s sponsored bills that would help. She said we need more resources for our law enforcement.

“Right now our Sheriff’s Office and our building department are working tirelessly to keep up, but it is a lot,” said State Rep. Morgan

State Rep. Morgan, who served as a Josephine Co. Commissioner until this year said this problem goes farther than illegal cannabis activity. It stretches into water rights, property prices, and environmental issues.

NBC5 News reached out to both the Josephine Co. Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police for comment on this story. Sheriff Daniel said he could talk next week. OSP said it can’t comment on investigations.

NBC5 News reporter Katie Streit comes from her hometown, Las Vegas. Katie went to the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, Katie won a Student Emmy for her coverage of the Las Vegas Shooting Anniversary. She also hosted and produced the university's political news show, where she interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1). Her passion for politics turned into a coveted internship at the US Capitol in Washington D.C. In her final months working in the Las Vegas area, she was recognized for her journalism achievements by the Nevada Broadcaster's Foundation. Katie is excited to tell the stories of local Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians. Feel free to contact her at [email protected]
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