New website will help people distinguish legal, illegal growth
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Illegal marijuana grows in Deschutes County have authorities' attention, and they are looking to the public for help in efforts to find and remove them.
“These people are doing what they do to make money on the black market,” sheriff's Sgt. Jayson Janes said Wednesday.
The Deschutes County sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices and Bend police have teamed up to form the the Deschutes County Illegal Marijuana Market Enforcement (DCIMME) team.
Janes said that between last September and November, the sheriff's office seized 900 illegal plants, 500 pounds of illegal processed marijuana, over 60 pounds of illegal butane hash oil and discovered four illegal BHO labs.
“Illegal butane hash oil labs, those are extremely dangerous,” Janes said. “People trying to do those in secret on their own -- we’ve had places blow up here and people get harmed due to the illegal BHO labs in our areas.”
District Attorney John Hummel said that there have been 5-10 large illegal marijuana grow busts this past year.
“It’s not so much what we see but what we don’t see,” Hummel said. “We want to make sure that we’re detecting what’s happening particularly on the big illegal marijuana grow operations.”
The DCIMME has created an interactive website that will help people decipher what is and isn’t illegal and what to do about it.
“So by creating this interactive web tool, we’re going to help hopefully cut down on the calls for lawful activity and increase the calls for unlawful activity,” Hummel said.
The group is asking for volunteers to take part in focus groups, to test the website and provide feedback.
Hummel said while this tool is meant to help the average person who wants to assist in enforcing the law, it’s also will help the legal businesses.
“Because we have lots of small businesses in our community that are small marijuana businesses, who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in making sure they’re complying with all rules and regulations,” Hummel said.
“If a business comes in that doesn’t comply with the rules, a bandit who is undercutting them, they are taking away market share from those who are following the law," he said. "We want to protect the businesses that are doing it right.”
The owner of Substance in Bend, Jeremy Kwit, said he’s confident in the quality of his product and not worried about illegal grows taking away business.
“People can grow beer or produce beer at home or ferment cider, but the regulated operators or craft breweries do just fine,” Kwit said. “So I’m not so concerned about the activity that might happen outside of our stores.”