The Office of Cannabis Policy (OCP) has no authority to police or regulate illegal marijuana grows — whether operated by Mainers or Asian Transnational Criminal Organizations (ATCOs) — according to OCP Director John Hudak.
Hudak spoke in October at a “listening session” in Skowhegan alongside OCP Deputy Director of Operations Vern Malloch, and the Maine Wire was there to ask some questions.
“It is clear in statute. It has been made clear to us by members of the committee that oversees us that they never want us to be a law enforcement agency,” Hudak said. “Because of that, we’re not.”
According to leaked Department of Homeland Security memos, there are more than 270 properties in Maine owned by Asian Transnational Criminal Organizations (ATCOs) that are growing marijuana in Maine illegally.
An eight-week long investigation by the Maine Wire has identified more than 100 residential properties in Maine purchased over the last three by years by Chinese individuals, primarily from New York and Massachusetts.
The properties show evidence of active or recently active marijuana growing operations, including a strong odor and growing equipment.
Malloch said at the listening session that OCP is aware of the ATCO-controlled illegal marijuana growing operations in Maine, but the agency lacks the tools to take enforcement action against them.
“Because there’s no inventory tracking in [medical marijuana], it also allows them to buy from the illicit market,” Malloch said.
“We’re aware it’s been going on,” he said. “We have very few enforcement tools, investigatory tools that allow us to track it because you can essentially just make up your records.”
Malloch couldn’t recall how many illegal marijuana growing operations OCP had referred to the Maine State Police, but he guessed it was in the thousands.