A member of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission presented initial results of a crackdown on illegal cannabis production posing as legal hemp in Jackson and Josephine counties on Thursday.
Fifty-four percent of the farms licensed to grow hemp that state officials inspected were found to be growing illegal cannabis, according to Richard Evans, senior director of licensing and compliance with OLCC, who presented information to the commission.
Under the moniker “Operation Table Rock,” named after a nearby volcanic plateau outside of Medford, OLCC and the Oregon Department of Agriculture tested plants at 212 registered hemp grows in the two counties. There are 335 total registered sites in the region. Those numbers don’t take into account additional farms growing hemp or cannabis without any registration.
There were another 76 farms that declined to allow inspectors on the property and another 23 farms where inspectors were unable to make contact. “I believe from my experience down there, there are more illegal grows than there are registered grows,” Evans says.
Jackson and Josephine counties lead the state in hemp and recreational cannabis production. In an effort to reign in an explosion of what many believe is illicit cannabis, posing as licensed hemp operations, state lawmakers passed HB 3000 in July. It allowed the agriculture department to partner with OLCC and local law enforcement to access and test crops on cannabis farms in Southern Oregon.
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