© 2024 | Jefferson Public Radio
Southern Oregon University
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.
Ashland, OR 97520
541.552.6301 | 800.782.6191
Listen | Discover | Engage a service of Southern Oregon University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Siskiyou County Works to Decrease Marijuana Trafficking

Next Green Wave

Despite marijuana use being legal in California, there’s still a thriving illicit market intended primarily for export to other states. Officials in Siskiyou County are teaming with state and federal law enforcement to get the situation under control.

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey says there’s been an explosive growth in the number of marijuana plants that growers have illegally been growing and shipping towards the East Coast. In rural areas, he says law enforcement is overwhelmed trying to keep up with trafficking operations.

"Illegal growers take advantage of these smaller jurisdictions that have limited resources and we’re just overrun," Lopey says. "And we’re not the only county. I would confidently tell you that most of the rural counties in the North State are overrun with illicit marijuana cultivation activities."

To get on top of the problem, Lopey’s department and a state-run task force have been leading weekly raids on illicit cannabis operations. So far this year, the local and state task forces have seized almost 42,000 illicit marijuana plants in Siskiyou County.

Outdoor cultivation of marijuana isn't allowed in Siskiyou County. Indoors, up to 12 marijuana plants are permitted for medicinal grows and recreational users are allowed up to six.

Lopey believes that because of the state’s regulation of cannabis former marijuana related felonies to now be classified as misdemeanors, people are more willing to risk illegal growth and trafficking to make a profit.

"We have a huge marijuana industry that is growing a massive amount of illicit marijuana. This marijuana is going back east contaminating many other neighborhoods and communities all over the United States," he says.

Illegal grows often divert water from fish-bearing streams and carelessly use agricultural chemicals that can harm wildlife and pollute waterways. Lopey says he is working to get more help from the state to shut down more illegal operations.