So. Oregon black market marijuana is big $ on east coast

SOUTHERN OREGON, —Law enforcement tells us the illegal marijuana industry is out of hand, in southern Oregon.

Only on NBC5, we’re learning just how profitable the black market is.

The Josephine County Sheriff tells me southern Oregon has been the epicenter of the illegal marijuana industry for the last decade. He says even if all his manpower were shifted specifically to illegal grows, it still wouldn’t be able to tackle the problem.

“We’ve been the epicenter of the marijuana industry here in Josephine, Jackson County in southern Oregon for a decade, two decades, three,” said Sheriff Dave Daniel.

A multi-billion dollar industry and what some law enforcement calls the number one form of revenue for an agricultural crop in the nation.

“It gets distributed to every state in our country is my belief and I think a lot of it comes from Jackson and Josephine Counties,” said Sheriff Daniel.

Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel says all summer long his agency has seen 4 to 5 illegal grows a week but says detectives are working hard to make an impact. His team has seized roughly 170,000 plants and about 40,000 pounds of processed marijuana, just this year. But large amounts of the product, he says still gets distributed around the world.

“The money is in  the illegal market that’s where they can jack the prices up and ship it out of state to a much more broad consumer base,” said Sheriff Daniel.

Sheriff Daniel says the distribution of the product might go for $300 to $500 dollars a pound on the West Coast. But on the east coast, it might go for $3500 a pound.

“It’s a business, this is truly just a business it just happens to be an illegal one,” said Sheriff Daniel.

Thomas Peterson with Josephine County code enforcement told us earlier this week, the county only has one inspector to deal with illegal grows.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of water theft, a lot of burning of garbage, people living in trailers, disseminating in creeks,” said Peterson.

He says last year over 700 inspections were done in the field. The two say despite the overwhelming amount of work, they’re taking it one day at a time.

“We’re not gonna stop we’re out there we are trying to work for the people we hear your concerns we’re there and we’re going to keep going,” said Peterson.

According to Politico, people from every U.S. State and as many as 20 countries have purchased property in Jackson or Josephine counties for illegal growth.

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Jenna King is the 6pm anchor and our Feature Reporter at 10pm and 11pm for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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