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.

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