Efforts to curb illegal cannabis cultivation in southern Oregon could attract federal government attention with the help of Congressman Cliff Bentz.
During a visit to Rogue Valley this week, Bentz, Oregon’s only Republican member of the US House of Representatives who represents the second district, met with local law enforcement and lawmakers. They are trying to come up with a plan to prevent future illegal cannabis cultivation, which authorities say has been linked to violence, intimidation and even murder in the area.
Jackson County Sheriff Nate Sickler, Rep. Cliff Bentz and members of his Legislature discussed illegal cannabis operations in Rogue Valley on Wednesday, November 10, 2021.
Erik Neumann / JPR News
Last summer, southern Oregon saw an explosion in illegal marijuana operations, sometimes disguised as legal hemp. In response to understaffed agencies, from local water authorities to agricultural inspectors to law enforcement agencies, Bentz recently sought assistance from US Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“I have asked the federal government to get us help in the form of people who will help shut down these illegal plants,” said Bentz.
He has asked the Attorney General to send teams of up to 20 people from the FBI or DEA to Jackson, Josephine, Douglas and Klamath counties. His office has not yet received a response.
“I don’t think anyone is delusional that we’re going to completely eradicate this in a year,” said Rick Dyer, Jackson County commissioner. “We won’t be able to destroy every illegal crop that is out there. But to create this deterrent to make it uncomfortable, to make it unprofitable. “
During Wednesday’s meeting in Medford, Bentz asked the Jackson County Sheriff, Commissioners and lawmakers for more details on the dire cannabis situation in order to make a compelling case to DC officials