Following the recent discovery that more than half of the registered hemp fields tested in Southern Oregon are actually growing THC-rich cannabis, one county in the area has declared a state of emergency, as reported by Associated Press.
Jackson County officials report law enforcement officers and regulators are overwhelmed by the number of illegal cannabis farms in the area and have asked the governor and state legislature for help.
AP reports illegal cannabis farms have been found to steal water, creating a greater urgency in the Western U.S. where droughts have become more persistent.
Officials in Jackson County report many of these illicit growing operations are posing as legal hemp farms.
In July, The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) adopted temporary rules to allow the agency to work with the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) to test registered hemp fields across the state to determine if the farmers are growing legal hemp (containing less than 0.3% THC) or illegal cannabis (containing more than 0.3% THC). Farms with plants containing more than 5% THC were considered cannabis operations.
During the inspections, dubbed “Operation Table Rock,” inspectors found that out of test results available for 212 farms, 114 had tested as cannabis.Read more about the investigation here.