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Jackson County asked for National Guard help with marijuana emergency, but it's unlikely to happen this year

In its letter to Governor Kate Brown, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners asked for National Guard mobilization to help with the crackdown on illegal marijuana.

Posted: Oct 18, 2021 5:50 PM
Updated: Oct 18, 2021 6:18 PM

MEDFORD, Ore. — In a letter to Governor Kate Brown and state officials approved last week, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners asked for assistance from the Oregon National Guard in cracking down illegal marijuana production in the area. But a response from the Governor's office suggests that the help is unlikely to come anytime soon.

Jackson County declared a state of emergency last Wednesday, in part as a vehicle to lobby the state for funding that could translate into more law and code enforcement personnel to deal with the rapid escalation of unlicensed marijuana grows and local authorities' inability to respond quickly enough.

Commissioner Rick Dyer confirmed on Monday that they'd also asked the Governor for National Guard support, which was first reported by the Associated Press.

In a statement NewsWatch 12, Governor Brown's press secretary Liz Merah indicated that Brown agreed with the commissioners' assessment of the severity of the problem, but would not be able to commit more resources until next year.


RELATED: Jackson County task force raids illegal marijuana grow and processing center near Medford


Merah cited Brown's support of House Bill 3000, one of the most recent legislative efforts to combine state and local resources in cracking down on unlicensed cannabis, and the creation of a multi-agency team to work on implementing it.

"This team has been hard at work in the region during harvest season," Merah said. "Additionally, and after conversations with local leaders, the Governor directed OSP to specifically dedicate additional resources to multi-agency operations."

Brown also authorized doubling the size of cannabis-related law enforcement grants for the region, Merah said, but those funds won't come through until just prior to the 2022 growing season.

The Oregon National Guard does already have a presence on several drug enforcement teams in southern Oregon, Merah said — although it likely does not represent the kind of investment in personnel that Jackson County has requested. One full-time National Guardsman is embedded each with the OSP Marijuana Task Force based in Medford, the Homeland Security Investigations Medford office, and with the Klamath County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force.

Merah said that this year the Oregon Military Department also has an aviation program with two pilots who have flown missions in support of law enforcement agencies.

"The message is clear –– Oregon is not open for business to illegal cannabis grows," Merah continued. "These are criminal enterprises that deplete water resources while our state is in drought, hold their workforce in inhumane conditions, and severely harm our legal cannabis marketplace."

Guardsmen are unlikely to be mobilized in force to southern Oregon on marijuana enforcement duty this year for two reasons, Merah said: first, because many of them have already been deployed to support hospitals during the COVID-19 Delta variant surge; and because the current growing season is already essentially over.

"The Governor remains concerned about the situation and will continue to monitor what resources might be needed for the 2022 growing season," Merah concluded.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 392197

Reported Deaths: 5186
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60432839
Washington42082398
Marion39986507
Clackamas32861382
Lane30179358
Jackson24956361
Deschutes23639185
Umatilla15135182
Linn14704179
Douglas13438292
Josephine10201246
Yamhill9787143
Klamath9072147
Polk8248102
Benton611138
Malheur592790
Coos5693107
Columbia433356
Jefferson420866
Lincoln363852
Union339255
Crook336356
Wasco317046
Clatsop262735
Baker220833
Tillamook217045
Hood River214537
Morrow197825
Curry192439
Harney119933
Grant108515
Lake105616
Wallowa76013
Sherman1913
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 5087907

Reported Deaths: 74561
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152858627184
San Diego4074794340
Riverside3880835358
San Bernardino3748555967
Orange3346265736
Sacramento1684922447
Kern1578751804
Fresno1568972259
Santa Clara1522681929
Alameda1252361507
San Joaquin1076041834
Ventura1040841191
Contra Costa1038691046
Stanislaus915481417
Tulare861371099
San Francisco56931672
San Mateo56354629
Monterey52521626
Solano47693358
Santa Barbara47345553
Merced45086668
Sonoma43207412
Placer42204470
Imperial38516773
Kings35221362
San Luis Obispo31511360
Madera26233311
Shasta26113458
Butte25476318
Santa Cruz22268224
Yolo21590260
Marin18495249
El Dorado18325166
Sutter14577186
Napa13424105
Yuba1076389
Tehama10282130
Humboldt10183119
Nevada10029105
Mendocino857799
Lassen797656
San Benito782979
Tuolumne774691
Lake7046110
Amador578366
Siskiyou475855
Glenn457436
Calaveras442288
Del Norte376942
Colusa325921
Inyo256746
Plumas19397
Mono18924
Mariposa160718
Trinity99817
Modoc7725
Sierra2180
Alpine1080
Unassigned810
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