“Illegal marijuana grows are responsible for an alarming influx of organized crime into our communities, particularly from Mexican drug cartels and Chinese crime syndicates.”
By Carmen Forman, Oklahoma Voice
Oklahoma’s attorney general is asking citizens to report suspected illegal marijuana grow operations to a new anonymous tipline as part of efforts to crack down on illicit drug activity.
The tipline goes hand-in-hand with a new task force Attorney General Gentner Drummond (R) created to combat illegal marijuana grows across the state.
Drummond on Wednesday announced the formation of the Organized Crime Task Force, which will work with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control and the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to shut down illegal grow operations. The task force also will investigate any other illicit activity related to the illegal grows, such as human trafficking and the distribution of fentanyl, according to a news release.
“Illegal marijuana grows are responsible for an alarming influx of organized crime into our communities, particularly from Mexican drug cartels and Chinese crime syndicates,” Drummond said in the release. “I have made it a priority to wipe out these illicit operators and this task force is a crucial component to driving out criminals and ensuring public safety.”
A new Organized Crime Task Force has been created to combat illegal marijuana grow operations across Oklahoma. I have made it a priority to wipe out these illicit operators and this task force is a crucial component for ensuring public safety. https://t.co/Vyp0NDBMLD
— Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond (@Okla_OAG) September 20, 2023
Oklahoma has seen illegal cannabis grows crop up following the passage of a state question to legalize medical marijuana. Drummond vowed on the campaign trail to improve enforcement of the state’s medical marijuana laws and quash the black-market cannabis industry.
The task force includes four dedicated prosecutors and 11 agents with federal and state law enforcement experience, including those who used to work for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, a former deputy U.S. marshal and a former U.S. Navy seal, said Phil Bacharach, a Drummond spokesperson.
Although the task force has been in the works since Drummond took office, the new entity is now close to being fully staffed, Bacharach said.
A new law that takes effect November 1 will give Drummond’s office more authority to enforce the state’s medical marijuana laws by conducting unannounced inspections of grow operations, seizing and destroying illegal drugs and coordinating such efforts with other state agencies.
Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.