Over 3,500 marijuana plants seized, burned in Pottawatomie County

Mike Seals - June 30, 2021 11:26 pm

POTTAWATOMIE COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – The Special Operations Team of District 23 said investigators seized and burned more than 3,500 marijuana plants near Shawnee, last Friday.

A former dispensary owner said these illegal operations have made it harder for legal growers, and said it’s crimes like these that are driving legal operators out of the business.

“It’s something that has to be done,” said Kent Malave, a former dispensary owner.

Kent Malave, a former dispensary owner, said illegal cannabis growers and businesses are driving people like him out of business. He said the criminals can afford to sell their bud for cheap because they don’t have to make up for expenses like fees, taxes and licenses. Malave said legal growers can’t compete and still make a profit. “It’s just not enough,” he said. “I couldn’t keep enough employees in there. The margins were so small. We’re just not making any money.”’

Malave jumped into the industry at the beginning, believing in the power of the flower. He said if patients are buying illegal weed, they may have no idea what’s in it.

“You don’t know if it has pesticides and you have people taking it that require precise dosages and precise types,” Malave said.

The former dispensary owner fears without more crackdowns the industry will get dangerous.

“If it’s strictly a profit margin and you’re back to cartels and drug running, and that’s not where we want to be,” he said.

Pottawatomie County District Attorney Allan Grubbs agrees. In a statement to KFOR he says, “With the illegal grows we face environmental concerns, such as chemical runoff, safety of public electric and water infrastructure, safety of the patient with illegal, improperly, untested product being introduced to the legal system.”

District Attorney Alan Grubb said the grower was not in compliance with the law. Legal cannabis growers/businesses are required to have an Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics license and an Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority certificate.

In the meantime, Malave hopes for a crime-free industry to help patients. “It’s effort, it’s time, and we help a lot of people. We do it because we see the difference,” he said.

The District Attorney’s office said so far there have been no arrests in the latest illegal grow bust.

 

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