Maine delegation urges feds to shutdown suspected Chinese marijuana grows
Maine's congressional delegation is urging the Department of Justice to investigate and halt suspected illegally operated Chinese marijuana growing operations across the state.
A leaked memo reportedly distributed among authorities at the U.S. Border Patrol estimates there are 270 grow sites operated by Chinese nationals.
The memo, obtained by the conservative news site Daily Caller, says profits are likely distributed to other criminal activities or directly to China.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Maine members of Congress asked the DOJ to clarify what it knows about these suspected activities and what it's doing to shut them down.
While medical and recreational cannabis is legal in Maine, all growing and selling of the product must be licensed by the state's oversight agency.
Democratic Congresswoman Chellie Pingree told reporters Thursday that she was shocked at the estimated number of illegal grow sites and that the letter to the DOJ is partially designed to protect legal cultivators and the Maine cannabis market.
"We want to make sure those businesses that follow the rules, those people who should be profiting from what they're doing, aren't undercut by illegal businesses," she said.
Maine is among several states that have legalized medical and recreational marijuana cultivation and sales even those activities are still prohibited under federal law.
It created a medical cannabis program in 2009 and legalized recreational sales in 2016.
The delegation is also seeking information about the leaked memo, including who authored it and what the DOJ is doing in response.