The state now has 6,300 licensed marijuana grow farms, but almost half of them are under investigation by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics for possible links to illegal black market sales, NewsNation reports.
Recently, one operation in Ottaway County was raided and authorities seized over 26,000 plants and 900 pounds of processed marijuana, with an estimated street value of $24 million.
These illegal operations also appear to be linked to human trafficking and prostitution on a large scale, with Jian Lin and Jianfa Zhou arrested for running an illegal grow operation and sex trafficking undocumented Asian women.
Despite the dangers, Oklahoma’s legal marijuana operations continue to thrive, with dispensaries and grow houses sprouting up across the state since medical marijuana was legalized in 2018.
However, illegal growers remain, and they are causing headaches for law enforcement, as the proceeds from their black market operations are funneled back to the criminal organizations involved in homicides, terrorism, extortion, arson, and murder, according to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics spokesperson, Mark Woodward.
Senator James Lankford, R-Okla., warns that Chinese criminal organizations are buying up land in the state and using it to produce illegal drugs.
This has led to the widespread exploitation of labor, including human trafficking, and is also funding other illegal activities that are putting people at risk across the United States.
To address the problem, Lankford is pushing for the SOIL Act, which would limit and provide oversight on foreign countries buying land in Oklahoma.
If the problem is not tackled, Oklahoma could become the epicenter of marijuana distribution across the country, Lankford warns.
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