By ANDREW SELSKY
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — On the same day last week that a Southern Oregon county declared a state of emergency amid a sharp increase in illegal cannabis farms, police raided a site that had about two tons of processed marijuana and 17,500 pot plants.
The raid illustrates that the proliferation of industrial-scale marijuana farms has gotten so bad and so brazen that Jackson County Commissioners asked Gov. Kate Brown to send in the Oregon National Guard “to assist, as able, in the enforcement of laws related to the production of cannabis.” They also directly appealed to Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek for help getting additional funding to tackle the problem.
During last Wednesday’s raid in Medford, police found a vast outdoor growing operation, plus harvested plants hanging upside down on drying racks and 3,900 pounds of resinous buds stashed in huge bags and in stacks of plastic storage containers.
The officers took 26 migrant workers into custody, interviewed them and then released them. A warrant was issued for the arrest of the primary suspect, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said.
Courtney said he is so concerned about the surge in illegal marijuana farms in Jackson and neighboring Josephine counties that he agrees that the Oregon National Guard should be sent in. Many of the illegal growers are armed.
“You can’t solve it just at the local level, and you cannot solve it, I’m afraid, just at the usual state level and have some more state troopers down there,” the Democrat said. “The National Guard, they’re going to have to get deployed down there, some way or other.”
Brown, a Democrat, is holding off on a deployment for now but could reconsider next year, her office said.