Local sheriff offices requesting money to tackle illegal marijuana grows

MEDFORD, Ore. — Jackson and Josephine County Sheriff Offices have both requested money from the state to investigate illegal marijuana operations.

According to a 2018 DEA report, illegal marijuana found in 37 U.S. states has been traced back to Oregon. That’s one of many reasons they both feel it’s essential they have more resources to deal with the growing marijuana industry in Southern Oregon.

“There’s such a large amount of work to be done that they just can’t get to it all,” said Sheriff Nathan Sickler, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

He says they don’t have enough resources to deal with the growing marijuana industry in the Rogue Valley, especially when dealing with illegal grows.

“When you don’t have the ability to be able to thoroughly investigate and prosecute and be able to eradicate those grows and those people, you know, those farms and deal with them…it gives a sense of lawlessness for everybody else,” said Sickler.

He says around 60 percent of licensed grows in Jackson and Josephine County supply the entire state of Oregon. And he points to a recent DEA report that’s traced marijuana illegally trafficked out of Oregon to 37 states across the U.S.

“There’s an overproduction problem in Oregon meaning the market is so saturated that to make money people have to resort to going out of state which, of course, violates the law,” he said. “Those cases are very difficult to work so we need resources to focus on that.”

That’s why his office is requesting over $700,000 from the state to add four more investigators, crime analysts, and other prosecution resources. But they’re not the only agency struggling with illegal Oregon marijuana.

The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office has also requested over $600,000 for the same reason.

“We’ve seen a rise in calls for service in general based around marijuana growing…,” said
Undersheriff Travis Snyder, Josephine County Sheriff’s Office.

He says they’re hoping to add 4 detectives and a Deputy District Attorney to be entirely devoted to marijuana operations.

“We have robberies that take place at marijuana grows, we’ve had some suicides that have taken place at grow sites,” he said. “So, it just brings a whole new element.”

And when it comes to marijuana trafficking across Oregon’s borders, Snyder says the agency wants to be prepared.

“When other states get car loads of marijuana that have ties back to Josephine County, we still don’t have the investigative personnel to follow-up with that tip from another state,” Snyder said.

The departments say they will be told sometime in early September whether they received the grant money or not.

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