MEDFORD, Ore. – A local farmer is outraged about what he says is the lack of enforcement of illegal cannabis grows in Jackson County. The Medford farmer of 30 years says he’s had enough of this growing issue. While illegal grows aren’t a new problem in the Rogue Valley, he says this year is the worst he’s seen.
Steve Fry is the owner and operator of Fry Family Farm in Medford. He’s been in the Rogue Valley for 3 decades. He has everything from strawberries to flowers. He was in the hemp industry, but it just wasn’t profitable.
“It’s [really] cheap. It’s cheaper than you can grow it. Cheaper than you can process it,” said Fry.
In his 30 years of farming, he says this year he’s seen more illegal grows than ever in Jackson County.
“A lot of people are growing illegal marijuana. And it’s just totally disrupted the farming community,” said Fry.
He says it doesn’t just hurt agriculture farmers, but it also hurts the legal growers in the community.
“These poor guys who are actually legal have all this infrastructure and goal posts they have to meet to be able to sell it. And it’s very expensive,” said Fry.
He has checked on some farms’ legality but says the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office told him it doesn’t have enough resources to take every illegal grow down. NBC5 News talked with Sheriff Nathan Sickler about illegal marijuana enforcement last month. A representative told NBC5 News no one was available for an interview Thursday.
“Neighbors aren’t happy with the grows about the traffic about the noise about the criminal element surrounding some of these locations that are illegal,” said Sheriff Sickler, “A lot of reasons we would love for this not to be an issue in our county”.
House Bill 3000 was recently signed into law by Governor Kate Brown. It allows law enforcement agencies more resources to deal with illegal grows. The idea behind the bill is that agencies can focus on taking illegal grows down so it doesn’t hurt the rest of the community.
NBC5 News reporter Katie Streit comes from her hometown, Las Vegas. Katie went to the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
While in Las Vegas, Katie won a Student Emmy for her coverage of the Las Vegas Shooting Anniversary. She also hosted and produced the university’s political news show, where she interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1). Her passion for politics turned into a coveted internship at the US Capitol in Washington D.C. In her final months working in the Las Vegas area, she was recognized for her journalism achievements by the Nevada Broadcaster’s Foundation.
Katie is excited to tell the stories of local Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians. Feel free to contact her at [email protected]