A county in Southern Oregon is seeking funding from the state to crack down on illegal cannabis grows in the area.
Jackson County officials plan to ask the state for more than $7 million for 37 new employees, including Sherriff’s Office detectives, code enforcement officers and additional staff for the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office, according to an AP News report.
The move comes after hemp field inspections conducted over the summer in southern Oregon revealed that more than half of the registered hemp farms tested are actually growing THC-rich cannabis for the still-thriving illicit market.
Following this discovery, Jackson County declared a state of emergency last month, saying that law enforcement officers and regulators are overwhelmed by the number of illegal cannabis farms in the area and that county officials need help from the state Legislature and governor to eliminate the illegal grows.
Meanwhile, Jackson County officials estimate that there are about 2,000 total legal and illegal cannabis cultivation operations in the area, according to AP News, and Jackson County Administrator Danny Jordan told the news outlet that the Jackson County Sherriff’s Office can currently only tackle 40 illicit grows per year.
Jackson County Commissioner Rick Dyer told AP News that state funding will help make growing illegal cannabis “uncomfortable and risky” for the area’s farmers.
The county’s request for funding will go to the Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office Emergency Board, which allocates emergency funds when the state Legislature is not in session, according to the news outlet.