The Oregon State Police (OSP) recently unearthed a monster illegal cannabis operation in the legal state of Oregon, a setup that boasted two and a half tons of cannabis with an estimated street value of US$500 million ($635 million).
The final price tag, however, depends on where the illegal cannabis is exported, according to a statement from the OSP.
After drug enforcement deputies with the OSP’s Southwest Region executed a search warrant in White City on Nov. 18, they found five industrial-sized warehouses stuffed with weed and zoned for commercial use, the OSP reports.
The scale of the illegal operation meant that it took more than two days for the authorities to clear and haul away the evidence.
Initially, OSP reports that 100-plus individuals were detained, identified, interviewed and released. Among them were migrant workers living on the property in what state police call “subpar living conditions without running water.”
The property had “subpar living conditions without running water.” /
The OSP adds “this is a very involved investigation and will be ongoing for several weeks.”
Recreational cannabis is legal in Oregon, but commercial growers still need to be licensed. To participate in this industry, “individuals and businesses must be licensed through the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and fully comply with all state and local laws and regulations,” notes JDSupra.
Oregon has witnessed some large illegal grows in recent months, including several that were trying to pass themselves off as hemp cultivations when they were, in fact, marijuana. This included one in Yoncalla this past September, in which the police found about 150 greenhouses containing 49,152 weed plants said to be worth US$50 million ($63 million).
The Portland Business Journal reported last year that the state had topped the US$1 billion ($1.3. billion) sales mark, thanks, in part, to people stocking up and using more cannabis over the course of the pandemic.
“This is a very involved investigation and will be ongoing for several weeks.” /
CNN reports sales figures shared recently at the MJBizCon Expo show that marijuana sales are on pace to exceed US$26 billion ($33 billion) this year and about US$46 billion ($58 billion) in 2025.
That latter projection would put cannabis sales at more than those of the craft beer industry, CNN cites Chris Walsh, chief executive officer and president of MJBizDaily, as saying.
According to New York Daily News, Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler reportedly testified: “We’ve had stabbings, robberies, thefts, burglaries, homicides, sex crimes, motor vehicle accidents, DUIs, all related to the influx of the marijuana-cannabis industry in our in our valley.”
Of course, Oregon is not alone. Another legal state, California, has seen its fair share of illegal weed operations and grows.
These include US$7 million ($8.7 million) worth of cannabis found in late October, an estimated 100,000-plus plants and upwards of US$10 million ($12.7 million) in cash discovered in late September and more than 64,000 cannabis plants seized in August from illegal outdoor within state watersheds.
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