Drug Prevention and Investigation

Changes in the Drug Markets of Washington County

Collage of drug images

Detectives from the Westside Interagency Narcotics Team thought you might like to know about recent major changes in our area involving methamphetamine (meth), cocaine, and marijuana.


Methamphetamine. In 2005, Oregon passed a law severely restricting the sale of over-the-counter drugs with ingredients used to manufacture methamphetamine.  At about the same time, super labs capable of producing large quantities of meth in a single cooking session began to operate in Mexico.  The good news is that the number of labs shut down in Washington County declined from 75 to only 3 in 2007.  But, while the amount actually being produced in Oregon has declined, we still have plenty of cheaper meth coming up from the south.

Cocaine in an evidence bag

Cocaine. Cocaine use decreased from 2003 to 2004 because meth was cheap and plentiful. In addition, the "high" of meth can last for 24 hours or more, while the cost of cocaine was significantly higher and the effects of cocaine only last for about 90 minutes. Since that time, the farming and processing of cocaine have continued; this has resulted in an excess supply and a lower market price. With its new lower price, cocaine is again becoming popular.

Marijuana plants growing in the forest

Marijuana. Marijuana is still widely distributed and abused in Washington County.  Today's marijuana is not the same as the product of the 1960's and 70's.  The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level in today's product is several times as high as the old product, is more addictive, and causes very significant mental impairment.  The high volume of this high potency product was coming from British Columbia, with a lower grade coming from Mexico.

Marijuana plant

We are now seeing rural grows here in the western states.  A forest grow of marijuana will be between 1,000 and 10,000 plants.  Each plant can be harvested once each year. Each plant can produce one pound of product. One pound of high grade marijuana will sell for up to $3,000.  As with other drug trades, the marijuana trade also involves violence.


Please be aware that these forest and rural marijuana sites are often protected by guards who are heavily armed and extremely dangerous. During recent investigations, marijuana grows have been discovered near forest hiking trails. In one case, guards were seen shooting for target practice near areas where families hike. If you encounter a suspected marijuana grow, leave immediately and call 9-1-1.


Your suspicions or information may be important to law enforcement. Please contact the WIN Team at (503) 846-5650 if you have information that you believe may be helpful to drug enforcement personnel.