Oregon regulatory officials have announced that they are partnering with state police to crack down on unlicensed, illegal cannabis grows. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which handles all cannabis licensing and regulations in the state, will assist the Oregon State Police with tracking down leads on illegal grow operations. “We’re going to be looking at all tips on illegal activity,” OLCC Director Steven Marks said. “We will be sifting out the bad actors.”
Marks said that the new partnership will bring the state in line with the Cole memo, a 2013 directive from the Department of Justice that warns canna-legal states that they must prevent black market marijuana from being smuggled out of their states. “OSP has the expertise and resources to figure out which law enforcement agencies need to be involved, whether it’s a city police department or multi-agency task force,” Marks said. “Together we can address that gray area, illegal grows and processing sites that OLCC doesn’t have the ability to regulate and bring forward for prosecution.”
Marks said that the partnership is “really good news for all the growers that made the investment to get into the legal system because Oregon is following up on its commitment to look into illegal operations and prosecute them.” Brie Malarkey, owner of cannabis cultivation and retail company Breeze Botanicals, said that it was frustrating to be spending so much money on compliance while other growers sold their unregulated weed illegally. “It makes it tough when you see people getting away with selling stuff on Craigslist,” she said.
The OLCC will allocate some of the tax revenue from licensed cannabis sales to fund teams of OLCC investigators and state police in Medford, Eugene, and Portland. There are currently two OLCC investigators and two inspectors in the Medford area, but five more inspectors will be hired to assist the investigations. The agency has increased its budget for cannabis operations from $8.3 million to $14.3 million, and will add 40 more staff positions.