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Illegal marijuana grow farms raise national security concerns

(NewsNation) — There is growing concern in the law enforcement community about illegal marijuana growing operations run by organized crime groups linked to China.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics claims 80% of the farms that they’ve shut down have ties to China.

“Marijuana is perfect because it requires the acquisition of a lot of land to grow marijuana. And it’s an all-cash business and when you are talking about a multibillion-dollar industry and the land grab,” said Mark Woodward, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.

Woodward said officials really started to crack down on the operations in 2020 and claim to have busted more than 1,000 of the illegal, allegedly China-affiliated farms.

And it’s not just happening in Oklahoma.

Other states are stepping up their investigations. The Wall Street Journal reported on cases in California and New Mexico.

“The funds that are being raised by this are going to China to fund further criminal operations,” said University of New Haven lecturer Kenneth Gray.

Marijuana is legal for either medical or recreational use in at least 30 states, but some in law enforcement believe there is still high demand for illegally-produced cannabis, as it is usually cheaper.