A licensed cannabis grower, a vineyard owner and a sheriff were among witnesses who testified this week before a committee of the Oregon Legislature, in an effort to seek help in stemming the proliferation of illegal grow sites in southern Oregon
Thousands of immigrants working on illegal marijuana farms in southern Oregon that authorities say are run by foreign cartels are living in squalid conditions and are sometimes being cheated by their gangland bosses.
An allegation of human trafficking followed multiple 911 hang-up calls that came from a property suspected of hosting an illegal cannabis farm, as well as a from an unnamed source. Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel noted cartel-like characteristics at the farm.
In Southern Oregon, cannabis farming is booming. But while hemp and recreational cannabis can both be legally grown in the state, there are fears that much of this year’s expansion is on the illegal market.
As Oregon’s cannabis market matures, and a push to federally legalize the product gains momentum, an industry that got its start in basements, backyards and forests is taking its ambitions global, at the same time as local consumption drives breakneck growth.