OLCC cracking down on illegal cannabis grows backed by new legislation

SOUTHERN Ore. —The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, or OLCC, says a new law will allow police to crack down on illegal marijuana grows in southern Oregon.

The head of the OLCC says the influx in illegal grows across southern Oregon is a big concern. Police say they’re grateful for the extra help.

House Bill 3000 was signed Monday by Governor Kate Brown. The OLCC says the bill takes care of many issues around cannabis, marijuana, and hemp, in Oregon. It sets a limit on the level of THC in hemp products and allows for more product testing.

“Hemp producers in some of the products that you were getting in mainstream grocers and retailers the CBD products had too much THC in them so they could actually make you intoxicated,” said Steven Marks, Executive Director of the OLCC.

It also allows for new enforcement on registered hemp grows, to see if marijuana is being grown under the guise of hemp. The Oregon Department of Agriculture will get increased manpower in regulating grows.

“It makes them look a little bit more like OLCC, so they do background checks and they’ll do some more pre-work, increased staffing to do work, more oversight in rural development of the products produced in the system,” said Marks.

The OLCC says an influx of grows only continues to increase. HB 3,000 gives law enforcement more leeway because it can be difficult for police to tell whether a grow is marijuana or hemp.

“It now creates the crime or if you’re not in a state program or it’s not homegrown, it’s a class A misdemeanor to grow cannabis not in a state program so law enforcement can go check it out,” said Marks.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s office says it’s glad the ongoing issue caught the eye of state legislators and the OLCC. Sheriff Nathan Sickler says he’s looking forward to working with the state agency.

“We’re excited for that because hopefully, it’s going to help get some compliance and control on a lot of these grow that are not operating on the up and up,” said Sheriff Sickler.

Finally, the bill sets up a task force for tracking how to monitor illegal grows moving forward and how cannabis is going to be regulated legally in the future. The OLCC says it will help the Department of Agriculture with some field testing this week.

“Make sure we get the programs stabilized, how we regulate cannabis products for human consumption, and how the state moves forward with its overall efforts,” said Marks.

The OLCC is hosting a briefing this week for county commissioners on its inspection processes. Also, there’s a big change of note, on August 2nd the OLCC will be changing its name to the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission.

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor 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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