Overwhelmed by illegal cannabis, Oregon county has declared an emergency.

The southern Oregon county has said that it is so overwhelmed by an increase in the number and size of illegal marijuana farms that it declared a state of emergency this week. It is appealing to the governor and the Legislature’s leaders for help.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners said law enforcement officers and county and state regulators and code enforcers are overwhelmed and warned of an “imminent threat to the public health and safety of our citizens from the illegal production of cannabis in our county.”

“Jackson County strongly requests your assistance to address this emergency,” the commissioners said in a letter to Gov. Kate Brown, Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek.

According to the commissioners, only four Oregon Water Resources Department full-time employees handle complaints and perform all of their other duties in Jackson County and neighboring Josephine County.

About 25% of registered hemp farms refused entry to inspectors, the state agencies said.

By last month, the Jackson County Code Enforcement Division initiated almost 700 cases of code violations related to marijuana production or processing. This was more than double the number in all of 2016, the commissioners said in their emergency declaration.

Brown’s spokesman, Charles Boyle, said the governor takes these concerns very seriously.

“The message is clear — Oregon is not open for business to illegal cannabis grows,” Boyle said. “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.”


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