OBN Agents Say Oklahoma Has Become Country's #1 Supplier Of Illegal Marijuana

Wednesday, November 3rd 2021, 10:17 pm


The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics says Oklahoma is now the number one black market supplier of illegal marijuana in the country.

There are 8,500 medical marijuana grow licenses in Oklahoma and agents say 25 percent of them are run by criminal organizations from places like China, Russia and Mexico.

People all over Green Country tell News on 6 have seen a huge increase in Asians buying land and creating huge pot operations right next to family farms.

Josh King and his family bought this historic piece of property known as Bald Knob Hill, near Henryetta. Then, a marijuana operation moved in across the road and within a matter of months, had nearly every inch of the 31 acres, covered with buildings.

He says 24-7, there's a terrible chemical smell that makes it tough to breathe, bright lights, loud generators, heavy traffic and even gunfire, some, right over Josh's house. He worries about his family’s safety and he also worries about how the workers are being treated at the site.

"We went up there and three times, they've added on to the house, a roof and a room with a dirt floor with old cafeteria seating in it and an older woman ladling soup stuff and their fed a little portion each," says Josh King, the homeowner.

He says all the workers speak Mandarin but one and whenever he asks questions, the answer is the same, we have a certificate.

He says the trash, the environmental impact, the noise, all need to be addressed and shouldn't be allowed this close to families.

"If you’re going to have something that big, OK is going to have some kind of zoning laws or some kind of something," says King.

There are now around 40 marijuana farms just in the Henryetta area.

"It has changed the landscape of our entire state. I've contacted legislators and they said, “well, you voted for it, I don't think we voted for this," says realtor Tammie Hiatt.

State Drug Agents say buyers from China, Russia, Mexico and other countries are coming here and making offers for land that's two, three, even 10 times over the asking price. They pay with cash and want a closing within 10 days.

Josh says he's called everybody he can think of for help.

This family saved up for their first home and bought this little piece of land and for months, they were in heaven.

"Wonderful, peaceful, we're not too far out of town but far enough, it was great," says the homeowner.

But then, this pot operation moved in. The smell is horrible, She hears people screaming, there are bright lights, loud noises, gunfire. She even had one of the workers jump into her yard and take off running. Now, she doesn't allow her children to play outside and is scared in her own home.

"I'm stuck and I'm scared for my kids every day. I don't know why people are allowing it. I don't understand why there are no laws against it or anything. I can't get out of here. I can't pay my mortgage and pay to be somewhere else," says the homeowner.

Lori Fullbright, reporter: "The thing is, people from several different counties who have never met each other, never talked to each other, all share very similar stories, all have questions and don't seem to be getting answers."

Rudy lives near Bristow with his wife, after buying their dream retirement home on a beautiful piece of land. They've spent years, making improvements, clearing land to create meadows, then, Chinese nationals bought the land next door and built hoop houses and dorms and a processing plant.

"On a scale of one to 10, it's a 15, real frustrating. We wanted peace and quiet," says Rudy.

He has the same complaints, 18 wheelers running all night, tearing up the road, loud noises, bright lights, gunfire and trying to talk to anyone is hard, because no workers speak English. He doesn't understand how it's legal.

The law says 75 percent of the operation must be owned by an Oklahoman who’s lived in the state for at least two years.

Lori: "You think any Oklahoman owns that business?"

Rudy: "Oh no."

He doesn’t care what nationality the people who are running the operation, he simply doesn’t believe it belongs near homes.

"I can understand raising cattle, this is cattle country or crops but that is an industrial business and they get by saying they're growing marijuana, it's agricultural. Our politicians need to get off their butts and do something," says Rudy.

Lori Fullbright, reporter: "He feels he has no choice but to sell but their terrible catch 22 is, no one wants to buy with this operation next door except maybe the folks who own the operation."

"I want to cry every time I think about it," says Rudy.

The two farms in our stories, do have Oklahomans listed as the owners.

OBN agents say true ownership is often hard to determine because illegal operations use ghost owners, where an Oklahoman may be listed as the property owner for 200 farms and shell corporations are used to hide true ownership.

They say they come to Oklahoma because our licenses and our land is cheaper here than in places like California.

Oklahoma has 8,500 licensed grow operations, California has 3,500.

The law also says the marijuana grown in OK has to stay here but OBN agents say it’s being shipped everywhere and they, along with the DEA have intercepted several shipments to the East Coast.

OBN says the OK Medical Marijuana Authority has hired a new director who is hiring many more inspectors to try to get caught up on checking on these operations.

The OBN and DEA don't want to just stop the illegal growers, they want to go after the people at the top of these organizations and that takes time.

OBN says it did recently deny 400 new applications and plan to deny many that are coming up for renewal.


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