Agents shut down 3 suspected illicit marijuana grow facilities

OKLAHOMA CITY — At least three illicit marijuana farms in Oklahoma have been shut down this month as government officials crack down on suspected “bad actors.”

Local, state and federal officials raided two marijuana grow operations in Grady County on May 16, in the Rush Springs and Alex areas, Grady County Sheriff Gary Boggess announced on Facebook. “We assisted State and Federal Agencies in taking two more illegal marijuana grows down in Grady County early this morning,” he posted.

However, law enforcement officials were tight-lipped afterward.

“We participated” in the raid “but all press is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Mark Woodward, public information officer for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, told Southwest Ledger.

“Law enforcement officers conducted operations in accordance with a lawful court order,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Travis Smith told the Ledger, but he refused to provide any details.

And Sheriff Boggess did not respond to two messages the Ledger left with his office: one on May 16 and another on May 17.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority shut down a suspected illicit grow operation in Pauls Valley on May 10 after inspectors found more than 200 untagged cannabis plants and five trash bags of untraceable harvested marijuana.

OMMA filed an emergency order of summary suspension and cease-and-desist in administrative court against Leon Berg, who first became a licensed medical marijuana grower in July 2019.

“We’ve always been clear that patient safety is our top priority, and that starts with ensuring every seed, plant and medical marijuana product in our state is tracked, traceable and tested for safety,” said OMMA Executive Director Adria Berry.

“We don’t tolerate egregious violations of our rules that put patients at risk. Illicit market cannabis also tilts the odds against the thousands of business owners trying hard to do things by the book, and we take our duty seriously to kick these bad actors out of our industry.”

Berry’s emergency order immediately suspended Berg’s medical marijuana business license and required the business to shut down. The licensee has 10 days to request a hearing with an administrative law judge before any further administrative action involving the license.

Berry issued the order after an OMMA inspection at Berg’s grow. According to the order:

• Inspectors saw a white trailer and a rented box truck, each parked in grassy areas on the licensed premises away from the grow buildings.

• The trailer had 22 flowering cannabis plants and five black trash bags of harvested marijuana, and neither the plants nor the trash bags were reported in the statewide seed-to-sale inventory tracking system or had required RFID tags.

• The rented box truck had 179 flowering cannabis plants, none of which had the required RFID tags or were reported in the statewide inventory tracking system.

• Berg had no plants, no harvested marijuana and no waste reported in the statewide inventory tracking system, and no records detailing any inventory tracking.

State law and OMMA rules require all medical marijuana plants and products to be tracked from the seed stage all the way through retail sales to patients or legal disposal. Business licensees must use the statewide seed-to-sale inventory tracking system.

OMMA seized the untagged plants and harvested cannabis.

The agency has issued approximately 80 emergency orders of summary suspension this year, Berry said. All of them involved suspected violations of OMMA rules, such as large numbers of untagged cannabis plants, diversion of medical marijuana products to the illicit market, and mixing untested marijuana with plant material that failed safety testing.

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