Tulsa World

Nearly 5K marijuana plants seized

- SAMANTHA VICENT samantha.vicent@tulsaworld.com

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics announced the seizure of nearly 5,000 cannabis plants from two rural grow sites with aid from the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, whose director called a partnershi­p between the two groups “essential.”

Agents served a search warrant at a farm near Depew that — though it had proper licensing — reportedly was “selling marijuana out-of-state on the illicit market,” a news release issued Thursday from bureau spokesman Mark Woodward indicates.

Woodward said authoritie­s carried out a similar search warrant in Latimer County for an unlicensed operation and that the two raids combined resulted in “several arrests” as well as the seizure of more than 4,900 plants.

The release did not identify anyone who was arrested or charged, nor did it specify which businesses were the subjects of the raids.

The Tulsa World asked Woodward this week to discuss updates on the agency’s enforcemen­t efforts and the

status of its work finding “ghost owners,” or Oklahoma residents who falsely claim majority ownership in businesses on behalf of out-of-state entities.

He did not do so but said in the news release that the two farms raided this

week are among “dozens” of such sites agents with the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control have shut down since April.

In the news release, OMMA Director Adria Berry — who started Aug. 30 — said the OMMA is “actively working to further strengthen our relationsh­ip with OBN and local law enforcemen­t.”

“Collaborat­ion between OMMA Inspectors and OBN Enforcemen­t will not only stop, but prevent, illegal marijuana activity,” she said.

Bureau Director Donnie Anderson said in his statement that investigat­ors have seen a “rise in criminal organizati­ons” this year attempting to set

up cannabis businesses that are not compliant with the law.

“OMMA inspectors and OBN enforcemen­t agents are sharing informatio­n and resources to protect legitimate marijuana businesses and prevent traffickin­g organizati­ons from getting a foothold within Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program,” Anderson said.

House Bill 2646 allowed the OMMA and OBN to enter into a memorandum of understand­ing this summer in which a portion of OMMA licensing fees would help pay for OBN to establish a cannabis-specific enforcemen­t unit. The OMMA also has a legislativ­e mandate within House Bill 2904 to hire at least 60 compliance inspectors this year.

Anyone with informatio­n about illegal cannabis-related or other illegal

drug activity is asked to contact the OBN tip line at 1-800-522-8031.

 ?? COURTESY OBNDD ?? Agents with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control seize plants in a greenhouse at a Depew marijuana growing facility on Wednesday.
COURTESY OBNDD Agents with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control seize plants in a greenhouse at a Depew marijuana growing facility on Wednesday.

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