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Why the FBI is Looking into Narco-Weed Slavery on Illegal Cannabis Grows in Oregon

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narco slaves oregon cannabis

Oregon boasts one of the premium cannabis harvests in the United States. However, a deeper look at how the larger percentage of these crops are cultivated and harvested will put most people off. Humans like you and I have been reduced to narco slaves for peanuts. As it stands, there’s no end in sight as the slave masters (illegal operators) are fueling these activities daily.

 

Narco Slavery in Oregon

Oregon has become a prime location for the illegal cultivation of cannabis. The state has an optimal environment for the production of cannabis plants. Its proximity to California is also an added advantage for illegal operators. Over the years, workers have been found in these busted locations living in squalid conditions.

Local police reports often describe the disturbing cases of workers living in hazardous conditions without proper drinking water, clean clothes, and mattresses. Pictures that circulated in 2021 from the discovered sites in Oregon counties showed the way these workers are exposed to harmful chemicals, with their personal effects being stored in trash bags and other polythene materials. Some were pictured living close to fire-prone outlets that were erected with plywood. To sleep, most of these workers stay in temporary tents, shipping containers, or even in the cold outside with thin clothing and tiny pieces of cardboard to serve as mattresses.

The more narco-slaves working on a plot, the more guns, marijuana, cash, and other prohibited substances are found within the location. The majority of these illegal pot growers lure undocumented and underage residents to work on these sites with the promise of good pay. It is only for these individuals to be trapped and unable to leave of their own free will.

During a raid, the police officers probed the workers if they were being kept against their free will. Many of these workers denied this. It is still unclear why. Because they rarely get paid and are denied good meals, it’s obvious they are not allowed to leave.

The term “narco-slavery” is used to describe this situation. It was coined based on the worker’s exposure to narcotics and illegal activities.

 

Narco-Slavery’s Impacts in Oregon and Neighboring States

Narco-slavery has had varying adverse effects on the resources and residents of Oregon and California. Human trafficking for labor is on the verge of becoming slaves. The activities of these crops have also depleted the resources in the area. In Jackson and Josephine counties, local law enforcement reported massive, systematic water theft, which has aggravated the area’s drought. Harmful polluting chemicals used in the area have also been damaged due to toxic, polluting chemicals.

The financial aspect of these activities has all but ruined many licensed cannabis growers who are unable to compete with the meager rates these illegal operators sell off their harvests. In a letter addressed to the state government and legislature, the councils of Oregon counties have requested the interference of state law enforcement. They stated that these illegal operations have overburdened local law enforcement agencies and, as a result, cannot be eradicated without outside assistance.

 

A Huge Problem For The FBI

The FBI has started complex investigations into the conditions of narco-slaves and the cartels running the farms.

They have unearthed shows that many of these workers relocated from Mexico illegally. This makes them easy to exploit because it is impossible to report to the authorities.

Some also crossed the border due to their affiliation with drug cartels in their natural countries. These individuals go through inhumane labor to repay the influential organizations for crossing them over the borders.

According to Dave Daniel, Josephine County Sheriff, the cartels have overwhelmed the local security forces. To conceal and expand their operations, they have taken to leasing properties from residents. Daniel said that his office could record at least 50 busted illegal grows in a year.

In the latest raid organized by a joint task force comprised of the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and local law enforcement agencies, Daniel said that the suspected locations were located on two adjoined properties, one of which was about 1,300 acres. He said that about 200 workers were found working in painful conditions. In discussion with one of the workers, the team learned that they worked six days a week and were fed just twice daily.

Daniel said that the situation, though comparable to camping, is a far cry from it. Victims were scattered in tents arranged in tree lines at about 100 degrees. Some stayed within the greenhouses, using a plastic cover to keep warm. There was no running water or refrigeration. To put it simply, the workers were suffering.

 

The Hope of Abating Narco-Slavery

Daniel Dave explained that these narco-slaves refused to be helped during this raid. The interviewed workers even denied being trafficked into labor. The dishonesty of these workers about their inhumane working conditions and the circumstances surrounding them has limited the help that these forces could tender.

However, this dishonesty has been linked to a probable fear of the cartel hurting their families as a punishment for talking. Daniel added that the cartels could get them deported or demand immediate payment of the debts owed. In extreme situations, many of these workers could face bodily harm or even death.

A better and more effective strategy to flush out these illegal operations will be the best way to override narco-slavery. The US attorney’s office, DEA, HIS, and all local law enforcement agencies in Southern Oregon held a meeting in November to decide on the best path to take.

 

Final Note

Legal cannabis growers and workers deserve to have their sunshine and rainbows snatched by illegal cannabis growers. Narco-slaves also deserve to have their lives back without working or suffering in these illegal grow sites. Overall, a level playing field is needed.

Before it is too late, state governments should take immediate emergency steps to relieve the suffering of these laborers, reduce the financial losses accrued by legal operators, and most importantly, send an unforgettable message to cartel lords that Oregon cannot be used for illegal narco activities. Federal legalization or decriminalization of cannabis could turn things around in this region and other states like California plagued with illegal narco-related activities.

 

MIGRANT WEED WORKERS, READ MORE…

MIGRANT WORKERS IN WEED

COLORADO’S DARK WEED- MIGRANT WORKERS IN WEED.

OR..

ILLEGAL CANNABIS GROW

WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING ON AN ILLEGAL CANNABIS GROW IN OREGON?



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Webinar Replay – Corporate Cannabis Q&A: Buying and Selling a Cannabis Business

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For anyone who was unable to join our January 13th webinar, Corporate Cannabis Q&A: Buying and Selling a Cannabis Business, we’ve got you covered! Below, please find the full presentation for your viewing pleasure.

You can download the transcript HERE.

Stay up to date by subscribing to the Canna Law Blog.

 



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Oregon Cannabis: New Rules, Part 4 – Repeat Violators Beware!

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This post continues our discussion of recent changes by the Oregon Liquor & Cannabis Commission (“OLCC”) to the rules and regulations governing marijuana in the State of Oregon. You can find our earlier articles here, here, here, and here. This post focuses on a new type of rule violation that addresses how cannabis licensees manage and operate their business called “history of a lack of institutional control.”

New rule: violation for a history of lack of institutional control

The OLCC places violations of rules in four categories with each having a different presumptive sanction / penalty. See Oregon Cannabis: What to Do If You Receive an OLCC Notice of Proposed License Cancellation or Other “Charging Document”. A Category I rule violation is the most serious as the presumptive penalty is license cancellation.

Among the many rule changes is the inclusion of a new type of Category I violation for “History of Lack of Institutional Control.” The new rule will be codified at OAR 845-025-8550, the full text of which is available here.

This new rule gives the OLCC authority to cancel, suspend, restrict or require mandatory training for any license and to impose a civil penalty if the OLCC “finds” or “has reasonable grounds to believe” there is a “history of lack of institutional control” involving the licensees operation of its business. Let’s unpack these terms.

The “reasonable grounds to believe” standard is bad for licensees

One unfortunate aspect or the rule is the “reasonable grounds to believe” language, as opposed to “finds.” The term “finds” has a fairly established meaning in the law and corresponds easily to settled evidentiary standards. In civil cases, for example, that standard is preponderance of the evidence. In plainer English, preponderance just means more likely than not. For example: for a jury to find a breach of contract, the jury must find it more likely than not that a contract exists, was breached, and the breached caused damages.

The “reasonable grounds to believe” language is what many lawyers would call “squishy.” That is because what that language means in terms of the OLCC having to prove its case is less than clear. In the administrative law context, which is where licensees accused of violating a rule must defend OLCC accusations, this kind of language strongly favors the OLCC and represents a broad claim of enforcement power.

The OLCC is saying to licensees, in effect: “look, we don’t actually have to find (prove) you have a history of lack of institutional control, we just have a to have a ‘reasonable ground to believe’ there is such a history.” As an attorney who regularly represents license holders in administrative proceedings, I am not fond of this kind of standard. It makes it too easy on the OLCC to impose its will on licensees.  Indeed, the the OLCC does not define anywhere exactly what it means to “reasonably believe” there is a violation … as opposed to actually finding a violation of the rule.

History of a lack of institutional control

Obviously a critical component of the new rule is the definition of a “history of a lack of institutional control. Unlike the “reasonable grounds to believe” language, here at least the OLCC provided a detailed definition:

(2) A history of lack of institutional control:

(a) Means violations of Commission statutes or rules have been observed at the premises and the licensee failed to show adequate compliance measures, education of employees, agents, or licensee representatives on those compliance measures, and prompt action upon learning of deficiencies in compliance measures; and

(b) Is based on the nature, number and circumstances of the incidents, and can include incidents at the licensed premises that were not themselves the subject of violation charges.

(3) Behavior that is grounds for a sanction includes but is not limited to noncompliance with requirements relating to license privileges, security, tracking, testing, transportation, packaging and labeling, as well as prohibited and dishonest conduct.

Frequent / repeat rule violators beware

This new rule violation may be thought of as the OLCC seeking to clamp down on repeat offenders in cases where the past violations themselves have not led to cancellation. In other words, licensees who have compliance problems over and over, but no set of those violations was serious enough to warrant cancellation.

One positive aspect of the new rule is that the OLCC may require a compliance plan in lieu of issuance a notice to cancel or suspend a license. This coincides with recent changes toward a “fix it or ticket” approach to enforcement. Another positive aspect is that the rule expressly states a licensee may mitigate the history by showing the problems are not serious or persistent, and by demonstrating a willingness to fix the problems. So licensees should have at least one opportunity to fix problems before the OLCC seeks cancellation for a history of a lack of institutional control.

It will be interesting to see how and when the OLCC decides to flex this new authority. Perhaps it means the OLCC will take a closer look at marijuana businesses that some view as able to avoid meaningful sanction because they are essentially “too big to fail.”

For previous posts in this series, check out the following:



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It’s Okay to Change Your Mind about Pot

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Its okay to change your mind about pot use because your opinion has been based on information produced and paid for by the alcohol and pharmaceutical industries for the past 50 years and more recently the prison industry has been kicking in even more bullshit.

 

You do understand why they do this don’t you? Legal weed cuts into their profits.

Everything you’ve read demonizing marijuana for either medicinal or recreational use has been created by lobbyists hired specifically to work against all forms of marijuana acceptance and legalization. These are the same type of lobbyist hired by the tobacco industry to push for example; Buy cigarettes online California.

Both industries promote the fact less and misleading content under false pretenses and even worse; they provide all this bullshit to politicians. Listen to any politician talk about weed. They hit every talking point alcohol and big pharma pays them to (in the form of donations).

The smart companies have already done their due diligence and are ready to expand into the legal weed market. The dumb companies are still fighting spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to sway your opinion with myth-based propaganda so you won’t vote to legalize it.

But you know what’s even more disgusting and insulting to all Americans? This all started because President Richard Nixon wanted to punish hippies and black people. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, the demonstrations against the Vietnam War as well as Black Americans demonstrating for their civil rights were a daily occurrence all over the country.

 

NOTE: The racist overtones and laws about marijuana actually started in the early 1900’s. First against Mexicans and shortly there after against Black Americans. The laws have nothing to do with Marijuana itself; only with the people who use it.

 

This bugged Nixon to no end and he and his White House staff knew they couldn’t make being a hippie or a black person illegal so they concocted the plan to change marijuana to a Schedule 1 drug claiming it was for the health and safety of Americans. In reality, it was changed so law enforcement could start harassing and arresting hippies and black people.

Alcohol and Big Pharma said Thank You Mr. President and have been hard at work for 50 years thinking of every possible way to convince you to believe that somehow, legal marijuana will be the end of civilization as we know it.

Since it’s still illegal, they have done their job remarkably well and sadly, they have pulled the wool so far over your eyes, you actually believe their bullshit.

Let’s face the truth; people want to alter their personalities and get high. It’s been that way for hundreds of years and as far as I can tell, it’s not going to change anytime soon.

Please, tell me. What’s the rationale behind allowing individuals the right to consume alcoholic beverages to get high? Is it personal freedom; or is it because most people can consume alcohol somewhat responsibly? Without question, alcohol is the most dangerous drug in the world yet it’s perfectly legal.

Those points alone call for instant marijuana legalization with a stroke of a pen.

What’s the connection between Big Pharma and weed legalization?

Marijuana, in some instances, can do what a legal pharmaceutical does much safer and cheaper too. Safer you say? There aren’t any deaths to be found attributable to marijuana. Not just this year or last year, but in recorded history!

For instance; marijuana could possibly be the best cure for insomnia.  Weed is safer than any man made chemical remedy and if your Doctor tells you you’re better off using a sleeping pill or an off the shelf remedy, you need a new Doctor.

How sure am I? I hereby prescribe marijuana to all insomniacs. My prescription is for smoking or vaping it 5 minutes before bed. I do not prescribe eating or drinking anything with THC for insomnia relief; that’s just wasteful!

If you drink alcohol or use a prescribed medication for insomnia, pain, restless leg syndrome, anxiety, nausea, depression or a host of other ailments, please vote yes to all forms of marijuana legalization, especially in Ohio. The same relief or buzz you get from alcohol or a prescribed pharmaceutical is the same relief I get from weed.

 

 

Keeping marijuana illegal is sophomoric, racist and downright stupid.

 



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