Oregon State Police raided an alleged illegal marijuana growing operation on Wednesday in Eagle Point.
Cops seized 5,038 cannabis plants in 18 greenhouses at the property in Jackson County on Highway 62.
State police troopers “detained, identified, interviewed and released” five individuals during the raid. Zero or limited numbers of arrests are common at illegal pot raids with farmland and property leased from local farmers and the illegal grows often staffed by undocumented (and sometimes trafficked) workers.
The Oregon property was leased for “illegal marijuana cultivation” and the property faces $58,000 in code enforcement fines for unapproved greenhouse, solid waste operations and electrical equipment.OSP continues to investigate the illegal growing operation.
Police are hoping hefty code enforcement fines will discourage farmers and property owners from leasing their land to illegal marijuana growers.
Local law enforcement in southern Oregon and northern California say there are thousands of unlicensed and illegal marijuana growing operations in the rural and remote region.
Police say some of those growers have ties to drug cartels and organized crime syndicates who will pay farmers and landowners cash to use their land. The farms also consumer significant amounts of water in a region dealing with severe drought conditions.
Marijuana is legal in California, Oregon and Washington but it is illegal in other states and at the federal level. Those prohibitions and high taxes and fees on legal weed are driving demand for illegal marijuana.
Taxes and levies on legal cannabis can make it as much as 40% more expensive, according to legalization advocates.
The multitude of unregulated, unlicensed grows are challenging local police in rural areas of Oregon and California. Several counties in both states have declared states of emergency to combat illegal cannabis growing.
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue wants California Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a statewide emergency and bring more police resources to localities dealing with illegal pot growing.