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Rep. Marsh holds community forum on illegal marijuana in southern Oregon

State Representative Pam Marsh will be hosting a Zoom session on Tuesday evening to hear from the community about how the proliferation of unlicensed marijuana is impacting the area.

Posted: Oct 25, 2021 3:14 PM

ASHLAND, Ore. — State Representative Pam Marsh will host a community forum Tuesday night via Zoom to address the growing issue of illicit marijuana grows across southern Oregon.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners declared a state of emergency earlier this month as a result of the influx of grows recently — a phenomenon that has been building for years, though officials say that this year was particularly extreme.

Southern Oregon was already a lodestone for cannabis and hemp grows operating within the state's legal framework, due in part to the area's conducive climate. For the same reason — and because the presence of legal operations provides a certain level of reasonable doubt for illicit operations — black market operations have flourished. The operators grow marijuana, process it, and ship it to states where cannabis remains illegal.

Particularly in a severe drought years like 2021, one of the biggest issues is how these operations obtain large quantities of water. The other issue is one of labor, with law enforcement officials claiming that there are humanitarian issues with the way migrant laborers are exploited on black market grows.

"The proliferation of illegal hemp and cannabis cultivation in Southern Oregon has generated enormous public concern," Marsh's office said in a statement. "This community forum will provide an opportunity to hear from individuals and agencies on the front lines regarding the issues that have emerged, including permitting, regulatory response, law enforcement, code compliance, worker conditions, water usage, and past and potential future legislation."


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


Tuesday's session will feature a few key presenters most familiar with the issue at both the state and local level — Obie Strickler, chair of the Jackson County Marijuana Advisory Committee; multiple officials from the Oregon Department of Agriculture; Steve Marks, executive director of the OLCC; Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler; Alicia Brown supervisor with Jackson County Code Enforcement; Jackson County Watermaster Shavon Haynes; and Kathy Keesee, execute director of Unete Center for Farmworker Advocacy.

"Our goal is to provide listeners with the most current information possible, and to identify the right path forward," Marsh's office said. "To that end, we will ask each speaker to conclude with a couple of recommendations for policy or funding needed to get a handle on the illegal industry."

The forum begins Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. Spanish and American Sign Language interpretation will be available. The link to attend via Zoom can accessed here directly, and will be posted on Marsh's page here.

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

Data is updated nightly.

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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