Oregon authorities are trying to shut down any illicit cannabis grows with ties to Mexican cartels.
Law enforcement officers and other authorities in southern Oregon say that a rash of illegal marijuana cultivation operations in the area are linked to Mexican drug cartels intent on overwhelming local resources as a strategy to maximize profits.
In Jackson County, officials declared a state of emergency last month and said that the proliferation of illicit pot farms had strained local law enforcement and other resources. In a letter to Oregon Governor Kate Brown and state lawmakers, the Jackson County Board Commissioners called for more funding and personnel to support law enforcement and code compliance efforts in the area.
Jackson County Commissioner Rick Dyer told reporters that other illegal activities including human trafficking, forced labor and unsafe living conditions for workers are tied to the unregulated marijuana cultivation in Oregon, where cannabis commerce is legal for licensed businesses. He added that illegal operators intimidate and abuse their workers, who are often minors or the parents of young children.
Oregon Officials Seek Regional Solution
Officials in Jackson County hope that their counterparts in neighboring Klamath and Josephine Counties will declare a similar state of emergency so that the region sends a unified message to state leaders.
“It’s harder to ignore when it’s a regional declaration of an emergency,” Dyer said. “And the more of a united front we present it will make it harder to ignore. It is a regional problem, and it could be a regional solution.”
Despite recreational cannabis becoming legal for adults in Connecticut earlier this summer and setting a timeline for cannabis retail sales to begin by the end of 2022, multiple shoreline towns have taken legislative action to temporarily — or in Clinton’s case, permanently — prohibit cannabis establishments.
Clinton’s Town Manager Karl Kilduff wrote in an email Thursday that the Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing in September on a regulation drafted to allow a marijuana establishment as defined in state statute.
According to state law, local officials can control the number and locations of cannabis retailers through zoning and can determine where smoking and vaping is allowed.
At the hearing, 15 of the 17 people who spoke opposed the regulation allowing establishments, including David Melillo, director of Clinton Human Services, and Vincent DeMaio, Clinton’s police chief. Only one person felt neutral and one was in favor of allowing establishments.
“That is going to come to our town because I’m sure Madison is not gonna have one, Guilford is not going to have one, Westbrook’s probably not going to have one,” DeMaio said about cannabis establishments. “We would be the sole town on the shoreline.”
City staff presented plans for a business compliance unit at Tuesday’s City Council work session. After the meeting, Deputy City Manager Michael Goldsmith said regulating businesses has long been a challenge, but the new compliance unit isn’t coming in response to a specific incident or type of business. He said it’s focused on the future and new or growing industries, such as gambling, marijuana and short-term rentals.
City Manager Chip Filer said during the work session that the city has had recent instances of residents taking issue with neighboring businesses or businesses not following city rules, especially as they have welcomed back customers as pandemic restrictions have been loosened. Multiple times at the meeting, council and staff members mentioned night clubs as a focus of the compliance unit.
“We feel the sooner the city can set up (the compliance unit), the better this will be for downtown residents, business owners in compliance, neighbors and visitors,” Vann said.
Goldsmith said the compliance unit is an evolution of regulation processes. He said there are public safety and planning employees that work to educate businesses and enforce regulation, but with short staffing and other responsibilities, they have limited time to focus on business regulations. He said there’s also little connectivity between the employees in different departments.
To unite those employees, the city plans to center operations under the City Attorney’s Office. Many businesses that host events or large crowds and serve or sell alcohol are required to get a conditional use permit from the City Council. The City Attorney advises the council during those hearings and when the council considers revoking them.
Pakistan appears to be the latest country to succumb to the cannabis legalization wave that has gripped the planet with increasing speed (and in a strange twist to all of this as the world struggles toward a pandemic-free future).
During a recent meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Science and Technology, the Pakistan Minister of Science and Technology, Shibli Faraz, specifically discussed not only the worth of the global cannabis market in just a few short years, but also the place of Pakistan in it.
Beyond this, the government has already moved to begin cultivation of hemp for industrial purposes. Initially such supplies will be imported—but beyond this, greenhouses will be constructed in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. Hemp production has been legal since September 2020 as has medical use.
With so many irons in the works, it is unsurprising that the government intends to formalize the nascent industry by legislative framework by the end of the year.
A History of Cannabis in Pakistan
While the recent moves by the government to formally legalize the plant and create an industry behind it are clearly being influenced by modern global cannabis reform, there is a long history of cannabis use in the country (and of course India, from which Pakistan was separated after the end of WWII).
A massive illegal grow operation was taken down in the San Fran Bay area with over 100,000 marijuana plants.
Millions of dollars in cash and over a hundred thousand cannabis plants were confiscated some days ago in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Law enforcement officials in cannabis legal states are clamping down hard on illicit cannabis operations. Although these illegal operators keep springing up every other day.
Black Market Production Of Cannabis In Alameda
The law enforcement officers in Alameda were able to put an end to multiple cultivation sites in the area in a raid that spanned over 48 hours. These sites had one thing in common: they were all unlicensed cultivation sites operating something the police forces termed 'modern-day bootlegging'.
The massive raid is now regarded as one of the biggest illegal cannabis cultivation site busts in California.
The Alameda County sheriff's office dutifully carried out these operations across the East Bay and they were able to successfully confiscate millions of dollars in cash, while also seizing cannabis plants worth tens of millions of dollars in probable black market sales. This estimation was made by the law enforcement department.
A group that failed to get a recreational marijuana amendment on the ballot four years ago and sued the attorney general over procedural issues hopes to give Arkansas voters a chance to legalize recreational marijuana next year.
Arkansas True Grass, a group of marijuana advocates and volunteers, is gathering signatures for a constitutional amendment that would allow Arkansans aged 21 and over to purchase up to four ounces of marijuana a day and grow up to 12 plants of their own. The group needs 89,151 verified signatures to make the November 2022 ballot. The deadline to submit petitions is July 8, 2022.
The new measure would also expand the number of businesses allowed to sell marijuana. The amendment allows for an unlimited number of business licenses, which spokeswoman Briana Boling said would be “affordable” and would be administered by the state Department of Agriculture. Under the state’s medical marijuana program, the Medical Marijuana Commission licenses dispensaries and cultivators, while the Alcoholic Beverage Control division regulates those businesses. The state Department of Health issues cards to qualified patients.
While the amendment would not change the framework of the state medical marijuana program, it would increase competition and drive down prices, Boling said.
The Arkansas True Grass proposal would also expunge convictions for some marijuana offenses. Under the amendment, anyone incarcerated or serving parole or probation for a violation of the Arkansas Uniformed Controlled Substances Act and whose current and only conviction is for a marijuana-related offense would be released. All criminal records of such convictions before the passage of the amendment would be expunged.
PORTLAND, Maine - Two sheriff's deputies accepted new cars and an ownership stake in an operation that illegally sold more than $13 million in pot grown for Maine’s medical marijuana program, federal prosecutors said.
Two other law enforcement officers and a prosecutor aided the operation by providing intelligence and tipping off participants, prosecutors said.
Federal documents unsealed Wednesday when one of the defendants pleaded guilty revealed an elaborate program in which marijuana that was grown in western Maine for registered caregivers was sold outside the program, with profits being laundered through a corporate structure.
Twelve people were charged in the 14-count complaint, including a Rangeley select board member, an assistant district attorney, two Franklin County sheriff's deputies, an Oxford County sheriff's deputy and a Wilton police officer.
FILE - Marijuana buds spill out of a broken bag.
Shock was what Lauren Fontein was left with, following a Fresno City Council hearing on Wednesday that decided the immediate future of five cannabis dispensaries in town.
Fontein’s business, a dispensary/art galley in the Tower District called the Artist Tree, was one of four cannabis licenses denied on appeal by the council during the hours-long meeting.
Also denied were: Haven, at 335 W. Olive Ave.; Public Cannabis, at 1220 E. Olive Ave.; and Cookies, at 7315 N. Blackstone Ave.
A Lemonnade-branded store set to open inside the old Bank of America branch in the Tower was the only cannabis dispensary to overcome the appeal process.
“All of this,” Fontein said, “was done very oddly.”
Fresno's License Appeal Voting Protocol
For one, Fontein believed the council would simply be voting yes or no on the appeal, as is typical in these cases. Instead, applicants were told at the start of the meeting that council members would vote to approve or deny the license, which had to be done with a motion and second.
Switzerland has given the green light to develop a comprehensive national framework for cannabis in the country.
According to Switzerland’s government agency in charge of public health and welfare, cannabis should no longer be banned but rather comprehensively regulated. As a result, the National Council now has the task of creating said framework and for an integrated medical and recreational infrastructure. The first city to kick off this enchilada of cannabis will be the country’s largest and its capital of Zurich.
There are several issues at play here beyond regulating the industry at a national leve—a task in truth that has only been achieved by two countries to date (Uruguay and Canada). Switzerland is backing into all of this with a country-wide trial.
This is deliberately limited to 5,000 study participants per canton, but it will begin to create a “state-by-state” organization for the industry to grow. Such participants will have to show that they are already cannabis users. This should not be hard to do. About a third of the Swiss population has admitted that they have smoked cannabis at some point. About 200,000 admit to smoking regularly.
Local manufacturers must obtain a production permit from the Federal Office of Public Health to ensure quality standards.
Participants will be able to purchase cannabis from both pharmacies and social clubs.
Arkansas sees another campaign to potentially legalize cannabis in the state. Advocates hope this spells the end of state-wide prohibition.
A group headed by a former Arkansas lawmaker has joined the charge to reform cannabis policy in the state by organizing a group to campaign for a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana. Eddie Armstrong, a former Democratic state representative from North Little Rock, is listed as the chair of the organization Responsible Growth Arkansas in a filing with the Arkansas Ethics Commission submitted on October 15.
The text of the proposed constitutional amendment had not yet been filed with the office of the Arkansas Secretary of State as of the beginning of the week. The group’s statement of organization, however, notes that the organization will “advocate for the passage of an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution to allow the regulated sale of adult-use cannabis in the state,” according to media reports.
In an email to reporters, Armstrong wrote that more details of the proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational cannabis will be released in the upcoming weeks.
Medical Marijuana Legalized in 2016
Arkansas voters legalized medical marijuana in 2016 with the passage of Issue 6, a constitutional amendment ballot measure that received 53 percent of the vote. Under the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment, patients can receive a doctor’s recommendation to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis for the treatment of one or more qualifying medical conditions.
Medical marijuana dispensaries began serving patients in 2019. However, statutory limits on the number of cannabis cultivators and retailers could soon leave patients with an inadequate supply of medicine, says medical marijuana advocate Melissa Fults.
In about one year — by October 2022 — Vermont's retail cannabis market is scheduled to go into place, and the state's Cannabis Control Board has already made some key decisions that will shape Vermont’s legal marijuana marketplace.
VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb spoke with senior political correspondent, Bob Kinzel. Their conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Mitch Wertlieb: In one of their earliest and most important decisions, the board has decided to prioritize small marijuana growers, and why are they doing this in particular?
Bob Kinzel: Mitch, they're really doing this at the direction of the Legislature, and I think it might be one of the most important decisions that they've made, because it has a rippling effect on many aspects of this issue.
So, let's start with, what's a small grower. The board defines this as an indoor operation that's no larger than 1,000 square feet.
Thirteen people, including four former law enforcement officers, a prosecutor and a former selectman, have been charged in a conspiracy to use medical marijuana grow houses in western Maine to illegally sell $13 million of the drug in and out of Maine.
Court documents in the case were made public Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Bangor after one of the defendants pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess and distribute more than a ton of marijuana and 1,000 marijuana plants.
The documents detail a far-reaching scheme in which the head of the conspiracy, 41-year-old Lucas Sirois of Farmington, allegedly gave cops ownership interests in his company and brand new “company” cars in exchange for confidential information that he used to benefit his business. He also learned about the federal investigation into his illegal business dealings through the officers’ networks, according to the documents.
A former Rangeley selectman is also implicated, accused of accepting cash payments from Sirois in exchange for advocating for his agenda, including a vote to advance a marijuana ordinance Sirois had drafted to a town referendum.
The defendant who pleaded guilty is Randal Cousineau, 69, of Farmington, who admitted that he participated in a conspiracy to illegally cultivate and sell marijuana from 2016 to July 2020. Cousineau was the primary financier and 50 percent partner in an illegal marijuana cultivation facility in Farmington, according to court documents. He also held an interest in an illegal marijuana distribution company.
When it comes to farm crops, hemp and marijuana aren't the water hogs.
f you are reading this, it is likely that you have also read a recent rash of Oregon and national media outlets bemoaning the criminal marijuana conspiracy that is consuming Southern and Central Oregon's water.
"'Blatant theft': Illegal pot farms in Oregon taking drought-stricken state's scarce water," screamed Eugene's The Register-Guard on Sept. 17 above an Associated Press story by Andrew Selsky. Less than a month later, on Oct. 13, Selsky wrote a follow-up of sorts, which made its way to The Washington Post: "Overwhelmed by Illegal Pot, Oregon County Declares Emergency."
The latter piece reported on Jackson County Commissioners declaring an emergency to get their hands on state funding (and perhaps National Guard troops) to fight unregulated marijuana farms.
"Since recreational marijuana was legalized by the voters of Oregon in the November 2014 general election, the illegal and unlawful production of marijuana in our county has overwhelmed the ability of our county and state regulators to enforce relevant laws in our community," Jackson County Commissioner Rick Dyer said in a press conference Oct. 13.
While Commissioner Dyer seems intent to blame illicit marijuana production on the voters' decision to legalize marijuana in 2014, Selsky seems to be going a step further; he's ready to place disproportionate blame on unregulated marijuana farms for the West's current, decades-long megadrought.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has officially banned the mailing of vaping products — and that includes cannabis, as well as federally legal CBD vapes and nicotine.
The agency announced the final rule on Wednesday to comply with legislation passed last year to stop nicotine vapes from being shipped through the U.S. mail.
While the law bans "electronic nicotine delivery systems," it defines them broadly as "any electronic device that, through an aerosolized solution, delivers nicotine, flavor, or any other substance to the user inhaling from the device."
"It goes without saying that marijuana, hemp, and their derivatives are substances," the agency said, as reported by Marijuana Moment. "Hence, to the extent that they may be delivered to an inhaling user through an aerosolized solution, they and the related delivery systems, parts, components, liquids, and accessories clearly fall within the [Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act's] scope."
There are exceptions: vapes can be shipped within the states of Alaska and Hawaii, verified businesses can mail vapes to each other or to government agencies, and individuals can ship up to 10 electronic nicotine delivery systems for non-commercial use per 30 days.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD) didn’t get their man (or woman), but did find a hefty haul of weed with an estimated street value of US$7 million ($8.7 million) last week.
The SIU detectives discovered the 7,000-plus pounds (3,175 kilograms) of processed cannabis after executing a search warrant on a property just outside of Keyes, Calif. at about 7:30 a.m. on Oct. 21, according to an SCSD post on Facebook.
The accompanying video shows a huge number of containers now holding the boxed-up cannabis.
“Our department is committed to eliminating what has become a lucrative black market for illicit marijuana cultivation,” notes an SCSD statement. “The likelihood of violence, environmental contamination, public health hazards and other neighbourhood dangers are significant,” it adds.
Garbage bags full of cannabis found at California property. / PHOTO BY STANISLAUS COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT
BILLINGS — The Billings City Council inched closer to finalizing its marijuana business laws on Monday after making changes to aspects of zoning and capping the total number of dispensaries, according to a statement from Councilmember Kendra Shaw, who represents Ward 1.
The Council voted to keep marijuana dispensaries in heavy and light industrial, and heavy commercial zone districts. Within those zones, the dispensaries would have to be located 1,000 feet away from parks with playgrounds, churches and schools. The dispensaries must be located 150 feet from an arterial roadway.
View the map below to see spaces in Billings dispensaries may be allowed to operate.
Pink areas on the map show where marijuana dispensaries could open up in Billings under proposed regulations.
Watch the video placed at the top of this story for a ground level view of a selection of permitted dispensary areas.
Well, that didn’t take long. Legal action has already begun regarding the Texas Department of State Health Services classifying Delta 8 THC as a controlled substance.
Delta-8 THC is an intoxicating cannabinoid that can be created by manipulating non-intoxicating cannabidiol (CBD) extracted from legally grown hemp.
Last week we reported the Department had recently updated its Consumable Hemp Program page to indicate Delta-8 THC’s presence “in any concentration” is considered a Schedule I controlled substance and therefore illegal.
The Texas Hemp Federation said an attorney representing Austin’s Hometown Hero quickly filed for a temporary restraining order against the Department.
“There are certain procedures required to modify the Schedule of Controlled Substances in Texas, and whether such procedures were properly followed remains questionable,” said Andrea Steel from law firm Frost Brown Todd LLC.
A majority of Marylanders want to see marijuana legalized for recreational use and think the state is spending too little on public schools, according to a new Goucher College poll out Tuesday.
The poll found that 60% of Marylanders support making marijuana legal for recreational use — though that’s a decrease of seven percentage points from when the poll asked the same question in March.
“Certainly when you see a drop by seven points, it's something to keep your eye on,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Center for Politics at Goucher College, who runs the Goucher Poll. “But right now, I would say the overall picture is that the legalization of recreational cannabis remains popular in the state.”
Between the release of the March and October polls, state House Speaker Adrienne Jones announced her intention to put the question of whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use on the ballot in 2022.
The poll also found overwhelming support for maintaining legal access to abortion.
Western New York's first proposed legal pot farm and production facility got the green light from city planners Monday night as developer Rocco Termini's son pursues the initial phase of his $200 million high-tech cannabis campus in South Buffalo.
Brad Termini's Zephyr Partners wants to construct a sprawling complex for marijuana cultivation and manufacturing, using 72.4 acres of vacant land in the Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park, just off Tifft Street, east of Route 5. (Image credit: BMS Design Studios. Zephyr Partners' proposed cannabis campus in South Buffalo.)
In all, officials said the project could employ 500 to 1,000 people when fully operational.
He's planning to start small for now to get the effort underway. But plans ultimately call for creating more than 1.375 million square feet of building space to grow marijuana plants, make a variety of products and conduct medical research – including on the potential benefits for cancer patients.
According to its application to the Buffalo Planning Board, Zephyr intends to focus first on 10.84 acres of land at 310 Ship Canal Parkway – of which only 5.33 acres can be used – and another 4.92 acres at 15 Laborers' Way. Those sites are north of the Union Ship Canal, with protected wetlands just to the north.
Three persons in Limassol have been arrested following a raid at an abandoned shop where drug squad officers uncovered an elaborate grow operation of illegal marijuana.
According to an official report, police received a tip regarding a marijuana grow operation in Limassol, inside an abandoned shop that had been modified to accommodate a large number of cannabis plants.
Law enforcement agents acting on a search warrant raided the place, described as a room adjacent to at least one other shop, with officers arresting two men in their early sixties, while another woman also in her early sixties was arrested later on.
“Two men aged 62 and 61 who were found inside the establishment were detained after being caught in the act,” a police report said.
'I understand if people are afraid to say something when they notice something wrong is going on but it is important for the public to work together with authorities'