Oregon County Declares State of Emergency Due to Illegal Marijuana Farms

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Jackson County Board of Commissioners is asking for more employees and more funding to help regulate the situation.

A county in southern Oregon has declared a state of emergency because of the numerous illegal marijuana farms popping up in the area, CBS News reported. 

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners said authorities, county and state regulators, and code enforcers are overwhelmed at the "imminent threat to the public health and safety of our citizens from the illegal production of cannabis in our county."

Illegal farm growers use a large amount of water, taking it from legal farmers and homeowners as a mega-drought continues in the West. The illegal farmers have even drained creeks and siphoned ground water, authorities said. Authorities believe there are hundreds of illegal operations in Josephine and Jackson County alone, CBS News reported. 

Marijuana is legal in the state, but marijuana businesses must be registered with the state and follow a set of compliance rules. There’s also numerous people who are selling the marijuana outside of Oregon to avoid state taxes and regulations, authorities said. 

Many of the farms are marketing themselves as hemp farms, but the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission recently reported that nearly 50% of registered hemp farms inspected were illegally growing mariijauna. 

There’s also been hundreds of code violations for those who are registered legally this year, according to the Jackson County Code Enforcement Division. 

The county is asking for more code enforcement staff and more offices to help with citations. The state’s Water Resources Department is also asking for employees to help deal with the water-related complaints. The commissioners are asking for more funding as well, alongside a repeal of a prohibition on local taxes on legal marijuana businesses.

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