Oregon legislators want to bust the state’s marijuana black market by giving money to counties with big illegal pot production and little law enforcement.
In the recently ended legislative session, state lawmakers approved a bill that will dedicate $1.5 million a year to help local authorities crack down on the illegal marijuana trade.
Rob Bovett, an attorney for the Association of Oregon Counties, said growers of illegal marijuana are producing huge amounts of pot in mostly rural counties with small law enforcement agencies.
Growers often sell marijuana on the black market, including out of state.
“Really, there is nobody there to hold them accountable,” Bovett said of the illegal pot producers.
The state’s Illegal Marijuana Market Enforcement Grant Program is scheduled to last until 2024.
The money is supposed to help law enforcement agencies deal with the daunting problem of black market pot, Bovett said.
Southern Oregon counties that might benefit from the law enforcement money include Josephine, Jackson, Curry, Coos and Douglas.
Bovett said the decline of the timber industry in those counties led to outdoor marijuana cultivation taking root several years ago. Oregon in 2015 legalized the sale of marijuana to adults, but authorities say the illegal pot trade continues to flourish. [Read more at The Register-Guard]