By Josh Dulaney
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Now you can get a 19-acre former marijuana farm at a big discount.
The former illegal grow farm in Johnston County went on the auction block with a minimum bid of $755,006.
No one was interested at that price. But now the minimum bid has been dropped to $100,000.
The farm was among several Oklahoma grow operations raided within a span of weeks two years ago.
Authorities reported the seizure of roughly 20,000 illegally grown marijuana plants worth more than $30 million in street value.
Johnston County Sheriff Gary Dodd was showing the farm Monday.
“Let it be known throughout the county that if you use your farm to grow illegally, we will seize it and we will sell it,” he said in a previous statement.
The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office selected Maryland-based Bid4Assets to conduct the online auction. The firm describes itself as a leading online marketplace for the sale of distressed real estate property sold by governments, county tax collectors, financial institutions and real estate funds.
The auction starts at 10 a.m. eastern time Tuesday and ends at 10 a.m. eastern time Wednesday.
Five years after Oklahoma voters approved a measure to legalize the licensed cultivation, use and possession of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the state is home to a thriving cannabis black market that grows and ships large amounts of marijuana throughout the country.
The black market cannabis economy has led to labor trafficking, prostitution and, in one case, the killing of four people.
Wu Chen, a 46-year-old former worker at an Oklahoma marijuana farm near Hennessey — a small town about 68 miles northwest of Oklahoma City — is accused of killing four other workers on Nov. 20, 2022, after demanding $300,000 be returned to him for his "investment" in the illegal enterprise.
Local and state agencies routinely raid illegal grow operations and seize millions of dollars in illegally produced marijuana.
In October, state authorities announced they shut down a facility in southern Oklahoma they said was supplying large quantities of marijuana to the black market.
Agents from the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, serving a search warrant at Harvesting Valley LLC in Burneyville, seized 45,335 marijuana plants and more than 700 pounds of processed marijuana. Burneyville is just west of Interstate 35 near the Oklahoma-Texas border.
Those under investigation are accused of having ties to the targets of a marijuana trafficking investigation the bureau conducted in 2022 that shut down Big Buddha farm in Wilson.
The bureau said that since 2021 the agency has served more than 800 search warrants, made more than 200 arrests and seized nearly 700,000 pounds of marijuana as part of investigations into businesses operating with a license obtained by fraud, trafficking marijuana onto the black market or both.