Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel answers questions at a community forum Thursday at the Talent Community Center. Mail Tribune/ Nick Morgan

Legal pot might be decreasing applicant pool, sheriff says

Jackson County Sheriff Corey Falls said employment applications have dropped in his department since recreational marijuana was legalized in Oregon last year. 

"It's dropped since July 1," Falls said, adding that Jackson County's human resources manager has reached out to other employers that require pre-employment drug testing in Washington and Colorado to see whether they've had similar applicant drops because of legalization. 

Falls and Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel spoke Thursday afternoon at a League of Women Voters forum in Talent, and marijuana was one of the topics that kept coming up.

"It's all the other problems that come with it — that's what our Jackson County citizens are seeing now," Falls said, referring to regular nuisance calls about the smell, noise from ventilation fans, traffic and perception of crime during the outdoor growing season.

Daniel talked about an influx in people from out of state purchasing rural land to grow marijuana — much of it still on the black market.

"It's almost an impending storm, to be honest with you," Daniel said.

Asked about marijuana tax revenue, Daniel said it's much less of a windfall than people may expect. He's anticipating between $20,000 and $30,000 this year — a drop in the bucket of his roughly $7.5 million budget.

"It's mostly going up north," he said of marijuana tax revenues. "On the priority scale of things I have to do in Josephine County, I look at person crimes, I look at property crimes and then I'll look at nuisance offenses and things like that," Daniels said.

Another topic at the forum was use of drones by law enforcement.

"People are very suspicious when the government has flying things that can look in their bedroom window," said Falls, adding that Jackson County doesn't have any drones yet.

"I'm not opposed to having a drone, but that comes with a public discussion," he said.

Daniel said the Josephine County Sheriff's office doesn't have any drones and doesn't plan to in the near future.

Both sheriffs spoke about the value of collaboration between the two counties.

"So much goes on between Jackson and Josephine county," Daniels said. "Crime doesn't have fences. It doesn't have walls."

"It truly is difficult," Daniel said about budgets and staffing in Josephine County, where the sheriff's annual budget of $7.5 million is a fraction of the Jackson County sheriff's budget of about $29 million.

Budget is also a concern for Falls.

"In the last 10 years, Jackson County's population has probably gone from about 60,000 people up to 75,000, at least our service population for the sheriff's office," Falls said.

Meanwhile, the number of deputies has dropped from 34 to 24.

"So as the population has increased, we've lost bodies," Falls said.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

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