Agencies Announce 'Drastic Reduction' In Criminal Organizations Operating Illegal Grow Farms In Oklahoma

Oklahoma's medical marijuana program has seen a "drastic reduction" in the number of criminal organizations that operate illegal farms in the state, officials announced in a press conference on Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 28th 2023, 12:24 pm

By: News On 6


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Oklahoma's medical marijuana program has seen a "drastic reduction" in the number of criminal organizations that operate illegal farms in the state, officials announced in a press conference on Tuesday.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority said the registrations from growers are down from 9,400 in 2021 to 3,200 today.

"We can account for 1,000 of those grows that we physically touched and served search warrants on and shut down," officials said.

Once known as the "Wild West of Weed", the agencies said Oklahoma is now getting attention for some of the most "effective enforcement practices in the country."

The OBN created full-time Marijuana Enforcement Teams across the state and said those agents had made more than 200 arrests, seized over 700,000 pounds of black market-bound marijuana, and produced evidence to indict and arrest individuals involved in these "criminal" organizations, the agencies said.

Story Timeline: New Crime Task Force Helping Bureau of Narcotics Tackle Oklahoma’s Black Market Marijuana Problem

Oklahoma’s new Crime Task Force through the Attorney General’s Office seized 74,000 pounds of illegal marijuana inside a Wagoner County barn last week. Authorities had to bring in heavy machinery to scoop it all up. The bust came from a tip about potential illegal activity, but so far -- no arrests have been made.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics deals with black-market marijuana on a daily basis. OBN officials said state pressure helps weed out the people bringing illegal farms to Oklahoma.

“It is a big problem,” said Mark Woodward, with OBN. “We’ve been focusing on these criminal organizations for the last three years.”

Woodward said Oklahoma is a leader in black-market marijuana.

“Probably have three thousand active farms right now that are under investigation,” Woodward said. “It just talks about the volume of black-market marijuana leaving our state."

One pound of marijuana can bring in at least $1,000. The recent bust of 74,000 pounds is a lot, but Woodward said they have seized as much as 130,000 pounds of marijuana in just one day.

“We’re intercepting semi-trucks on a weekly basis that have as much as seven thousand pounds in it. that’s 28 million dollars,” Woodward said.

Cleaning up a farm requires intense labor – they even bring in the National Guard to help.

“They’ve provided manpower and heavy equipment for us,” Woodward said.

Teams monitor this problem around the clock, but Woodward said it has to be sustained.

“We’ve gotta maintain that and our legislature’s made commitments to provide the funding so that we can continue to maintain this pressure,” Woodward said.

Woodward said they can’t stop at the farm itself.

“If you don’t shut down the people who are operating that farm, who oftentimes are not even in Oklahoma, then they’ll simply replace those workers and plants within a matter of hours,” Woodward said.

OBN’s investigators have shut down more than 1,000 operations in three years.

“Made close to three hundred arrests; seized over seven hundred thousand pounds of marijuana,” Woodward said.

They’re learning how to catch people before the problem starts.

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