Oregon Looks to Restrict Marijuana After Illegal Grow Operations Skyrocket

News outlets report that lawmakers in Oregon are considering legislation that would increase the penalties for illegal marijuana production.

Oregon was among the first states to legalize marijuana. At the time, many believed legalization would eliminate the black market and reduce drug crimes. Instead the opposite happened.

Oregon has been inundated by industrial scale marijuana cultivation sites operated illegally by organized crime and drug cartels.

Some of these marijuana operations are tied to labor trafficking and violent crime.

Authorities in Oregon reportedly have seized 105 tons of illicit marijuana this year alone.

Oregon isn’t the only state that has had problems as a result of marijuana legalization. California created a legal framework for growing and selling marijuana in order to weaken drug cartels’ power in the state, but instead their illegal marijuana farms have grown.

It’s worth pointing out that if Arkansas had passed Issue 4 last month, our marijuana laws arguably would be more lax than Oregon’s and California’s in many ways.

Contrary to popular belief, legalization does not decrease drug-related crime, and it does not alleviate drug abuse. If anything, it seems to make those problems worse.

Group Spent $14.2M+ on Marijuana Amendment Voters Rejected: Report

Above: Jerry Cox joins other leaders at a press conference opposing Issue 4 on November 7. Arkansans overwhelmingly rejected the amendment on Election Day despite millions of dollars spent on the campaign to pass it.

Yesterday the group Responsible Growth Arkansas filed a state ethics report showing the organization spent a total of $14,239,037.28 on its effort to pass marijuana amendment Issue 4.

Issue 4 would have legalized marijuana in Arkansas, but voters rejected the proposed constitutional amendment last month.

This was a true “David and Goliath” fight — and David won.

The campaign against Issue 4 had only a fraction of the money that the marijuana industry had, but it was defeated by a broad coalition of churches, business groups, elected officials, and citizens who knew that Issue 4 would be bad for Arkansas.

We couldn’t have defeated Issue 4 without people like my good friend former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Governor Asa Hutchinson, Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin, U.S. Senators Boozman and Cotton, U.S. Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, and Bruce Westerman, attorney David Couch, marijuana advocate Melissa Fults, the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, dozens of state lawmakers, Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Arkansas Trucking Association, the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Focus on the Family, the Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council, the Republican Party of Arkansas, the Arkansas State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police, and many, many others.

Every one of them brought something unique to the fight against Issue 4. We all did our part, and voters soundly rejected Issue 4 as a result.

Going forward, the marijuana businesses who backed Issue 4 should think twice before trying to legalize marijuana in our state. Voters clearly don’t want a measure like Issue 4 in the Arkansas Constitution.

Study Finds Poison Center Calls for Child Marijuana Exposure Up 245% Since 2000

Poison center reports due to children exposed to marijuana rose 245% from 2000 – 2020, according to a new study from researchers at the Oregon Health and Sciences University.

The study examined 338,727 cases of marijuana “misuse and abuse exposures” for children ages 6 through 18 years old reported to the National Poison Data System.

Overall, researchers found the most dramatic increase in marijuana exposure among children happened from 2017 to 2020 — which would seem to indicate that the problem is only getting worse.

In particular, researchers found that marijuana edibles — food or candy laced with marijuana or its psychoactive chemicals like THC — “accounted for the highest increase in call [to Poison Control Centers] rates compared with all other forms of marijuana.”

The study’s findings highlight growing concerns about how marijuana legalization hurts children.

In October, Arkansas Children’s Hospital voiced concerns about a proposal that would have legalized marijuana in Arkansas, saying,

Even with age restrictions, any policy that leads to increased adult use of marijuana is likely to lead to increased adolescent use, despite attempts to restrict sales to underage youth. This is of critical concern because of the potential harmful impact of marijuana exposure on children and adolescents.

To put it another way, children may be the unintended victims of marijuana legalization.

All of this underscores what we have said for years: Marijuana may be many things, but “harmless” simply is not one of them.

Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.