ATTORNEY GENERAL HIGHLIGHTS NEW TASK FORCE TO COMBAT ILLEGAL MARIJUANA OPERATIONS
News 9 - September 21, 2023 6:23 am
Oklahoma’s new Organized Crime Task Force is combatting illegal marijuana operations.
Attorney General Gentner Drummond, said it’s hard for law enforcement to figure out who owns each operation.
A law passed this year helps agencies work together to shut down illegal grows. Drummond called illegal marijuana operations a “true crisis that is facing Oklahoma.”
“40 percent of the marijuana sold in New York City and New Jersey is grown in Oklahoma,” Drummond said.
Drummond said illegal Marijuana Grow Operations are tough to shut down because of how they appear on paper.
“Typically, what we’re finding is it’s another entity,” Drummond said.
An organized crime syndicate, often referred to as a ‘ghost owner’, works to profit from illegal activities. This can include multiple illegal grow operations.
“Currently, law enforcement is a little bit handcuffed,” Drummond said.
Previously, law enforcement had to look at the application, license, and certification of a business.
“And that can be deceptive,” Drummond said.
Lawmakers passed a law last spring creating this new task force through the AG’s office.
“The primary focus is to identify and then snuff out the cells of an organized crime syndicate,” Drummond said.
It works with multiple state agencies, including the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control and the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority — with the power to look behind the scenes of businesses in question.
OBN director Donnie Anderson said — “I look forward to working with Attorney General Drummond and this Task Force to target and prosecute these criminal organizations embedded in the medical marijuana industry. My agency has shut down more than 800 illegal marijuana businesses over the past two years. But we have identified many more that need to be investigated. This Task Force will enable our law enforcement community to adequately address the ever-expanding presence of criminal organizations attempting to hide behind a medical marijuana license.”
“We might have to go to, two to three to four, to find out who is the air-breathing human that owns this LLC,” Drummond said.
Drummond said these businesses place the community at risk because of the motivation of their owners.
“They are incented to the same with fentanyl,” Drummond said. “They are making a market through addiction,”
Drummond said they are shutting down an average of one grow every day.
Anyone with information about suspected illegal grow operations is encouraged to submit a tip to the Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General. A complaint form is available at Oag.ok.gov by clicking on the “Illegal Marijuana Tipline” tab.
Tips also can be sent to [email protected] and reporters can remain anonymous.