NEBRASKA: Local law enforcement already claim that medical marijuana legalization in Colorado led to an influx of the drug in surrounding areas, but with the upcoming switch to sales of legal marijuana to those over 21, agencies are worried the problem will grow.
“Colorado is becoming the new source state,” said Cheyenne County Sheriff John Jenson.
In 2012 there were 274 reported seizures of marijuana coming from Colorado on its way to other states. This compares to 54 in 2005—a 407 percent increase—according to the National Seizure System. Law enforcement officials voluntarily report seizures throughout the United States to the NSS. It should be noted that it is difficult to confirm the origin and destination of drugs in some instances, since many times investigators must rely on information from criminal sources.
“Yes, we’re seeing a bigger impact, but by no means are we the only state that’s seeing that impact,” Jenson said. “There are several other states that are seeing large quantity seizures coming in.”
Jenson admitted that there are individual marijuana grow operations around Cheyenne County, but products transported into the area from Colorado are more problematic.
“It’s just so much more readily available than it was in years past,” Jenson said.
Many law enforcement agencies in Colorado are fighting drug trafficking along with those in Nebraska, but Jenson believes some jurisdictions don’t speak out against it as adamantly as they should.
Colorado State Patrol has no way of tracking marijuana transported out of the state. The patrol is much more concerned about drugs coming into the state, said Trooper Josh Lewis.
“We obviously prefer that people keep it in state,” Lewis said.
On average 2,220 pounds of marijuana left the state of Colorado from 2005 to 2008, compared to almost 4,000 from 2009 to 2012, according to an August report by Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. The mission of Rocky Mountain HIDTA is to facilitate cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement to combat drug trafficking.
There is no mandatory process for law enforcement to report either the seizure or the source of marijuana, therefore Rocky Mountain HIDTA contacted some law enforcement entities and requested voluntary reporting on the instances in which Colorado marijuana was seized in their jurisdictions.
In 2012, 7,000 pounds of Colorado marijuana destined for other states were seized. The top three source counties were Denver, Boulder and El Paso, according to the report.
“We’re seeing the front row of it.”