Oklahoma Seeks Millions In Federal Funds To Fight Problem Of Illegal Marijuana Grow Operations

Wednesday, July 7th 2021, 4:04 pm
By: Brittany Toolis

EDMOND, Oklahoma -

Oklahoma law enforcement agencies are looking to Washington for help in a growing problem across the state, illegal cannabis operations. 

The state is seeking $4 million in funds. Officials said the money will aid in each step of the long and complicated investigations into illegal growers.

"We know that this is a big problem, it's an emerging problem and so it requires an influx of resources to get after the problem really quickly," said Luke Holland, Chief of Staff for Sen. Jim Inhofe.

In June alone, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics uncovered four illegal marijuana grow operations across the state. 

OBN, the Oklahoma Sheriff's Association and U.S. Sen. Inhofe's office are looking to the federal government for aid in the often months long investigations.

"[Illegal operations are] operating on the face value legally. So, they're very in-depth investigations. They're conspiracy investigations, the typical conspiracy investigation is a one-to-two-year investigation," explained OBN's Director Donnie Anderson. "You’ve got to prove that this is black market marijuana."

Investigators said organized crime syndicates are behind most of the illegal grow operations. They often come from China, Russia, and Mexico. 

Illegal grow operations are hot beds for other illegal activity as well, officials said.

"Laundering money, human trafficking, sex trafficking, labor trafficking," said Anderson. "We've seen just a huge influx in ketamine. We've seized over 40 kilos of ketamine."

Some of the illegal crop ends up in dispensaries here in Oklahoma, but most is shipped across state borders and internationally.

The $4 million in aid will also help the arresting agencies serve warrants and raid the sites.

"We the law enforcement is having to harvest this product and it's very grueling, it's very labor intensive, it takes a lot of equipment," said Anderson.

If the request is approved agencies will be able to use the $4 million by early next year.