Take, for instance, the big bust in Washington County late last month: 800 pounds of dried marijuana and 5,700 plants seized — an estimated value of $6.5 million, according to deputies.
“Operation Table Rock” was a different kind of effort, taking place in two counties: Jackson and Josephine in Southern Oregon.
Bryant Haley with the OLCC said, alongside the ODA, inspectors looked at more than 300 registered hemp grow sites there.
“Are people actually growing hemp versus marijuana?” Haley said. “That’s where we’re at now. We had people saying they were growing hemp where the hemp tested at 34% THC where it was supposed to test at .3%.”
The OLCC reports test results from 212 sites show 58% of the samples tested positive for THC.
Haley said the issues go beyond the plants: “We saw people sleeping in hoop houses, we saw people sleeping on farms. We saw livestock issues. And environmental degradation. I mean, some streambeds and tributaries have been drained.”
Given the number of issues Operation Table Rock uncovered in just two counties surrounding illegal grows, Haley said the OLCC’s operations will likely expand.
He explained, “We have to take a look at this holistically and ask what are we doing. How are we going to do this better as a state? How are we going to keep bad actors out who are taking advantage of our beautiful state and not paying back into the system that we all agreed to? It’s a large problem. And it needs to be addressed, and needs to be thought through so people can continue to run honest good businesses that provide a quality, clean crop.”
Haley told KGW the illegal grows are sending products out of state, but couldn’t specify where at this time.