Illegal drugs seized in criminal investigations are stored in police agency property lockers before prosecution. A countywide protocol determines how long evidence is retained, depending on a number of circumstances, said Jackson County District Attorney Mark Huddleston.
When the evidence is no longer needed, either under protocol or court order, police dispose of drugs, which are generally burned. However, officials are somewhat tight-lipped about the exact disposal locations.
"It could compromise the security ... if people knew the location of the destruction sites," said Medford Police Chief Randy Schoen.
Schoen did say the police department relies on gas-powered, high-heat incinerators that meet standards set by the Department of Environmental Quality.
At least one sworn officer must witness the destruction, according to the department's policy, Schoen said. Firearms used in crimes meet a similar demise, he added.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Department employs similar methods but specifically burns marijuana plants at Rogue River's Panel Products mill, which the Oregon State Police also uses for the same purpose.
Because a particularly large marijuana haul takes too long to burn, the sheriff's department has resorted to burying plants at the local landfill south of Agate Lake. Raids on the site would be difficult, as plants are covered about 20 feet deep with garbage, said Sheriff Mike Winters.
"The minute we cover it, it's destroyed," he said.
Not quite as secretive, OSP transports its stash of illegal substances to a power plant in Brooks for incineration, said evidence technician John Parrish. The items burned actually generate electricity for about 4,800 homes, Parrish said.