Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson is looking at adding a deputy to help crack down on the black market when it comes to marijuana production.
Nelson spoke to NewsChannel 21 on Friday about how his agency is proposing to create a new deputy position that would focus on complaints about marijuana grows.
Nelson said the deputy would work with the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team and would enforce county regulations when it comes to cannabis grows.
The sheriff’s office has seen an increase in calls and online reports about marijuana grow operations.
Nelson said his agency responds to every call, and it takes time for these types of calls to be investigated.
He said his agency is responding to a rising number of calls involving marijuana grows in the county and the calls have affected his resources.
Nelson said the new deputy would help crack down on illegal marijuana grows.
“You’ll always have people that won’t follow the rules, and that is what we’re concerned about, as well as the overproduction of marijuana and the black market of marijuana,” Nelson said.
According to the sheriff’s office proposed budget. in the past two years, it has seen an increase in the number of minors driving under the influence of marijuana.
Earlier this year, Nelson and District Attorney John Hummel said at a news conference that more than 100 medical marijuana grows were not inspected by the Oregon Health Authority last year.
In April, the OHA denied Hummel’s request for a list of all legal medical marijuana growers in the county.
The request was made so the county can crack down on illegal growers.
OHA referred the matter to the state attorney general’s office for a ruling, but said the health authority has a legal responsibility to protect the confidentiality of registered medical marijuana growers.
Oregon Department of Justice Cmmunication Director Kristina Edmunson said in an email her office is in the process of drafting a legal opinion, which should be released within a few weeks.
Nelson said he’s glad the county commissioners came up with the new deputy position and funding.