Ever since Colorado has loosened the grip on marijuana and made it legal to have small amounts, there has been an uptick of marijuana in Kansas. There is no hard evidence of this so Kansas law makers are deriving a plan on how to track this.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has launched a statewide project to collect information about how marijuana acquired in Colorado is entering and affecting Kansas.
Since Colorado’s widely publicized decision more than three years ago to “legalize” acquisition and possession of small amounts of marijuana under its state law,
Kansas law enforcement agencies have consistently reported encounters in Kansas involving marijuana acquired in Colorado.
Existing criminal justice information systems are inadequate to track the phenomenon because they do not collect information about the origin of marijuana encountered by Kansas law enforcement, and they cannot readily be modified to do so.
“There are numerous and persistent anecdotal accounts of marijuana acquired in Colorado and illegally transported into Kansas causing harm here,” Schmidt said. “But because of technology limits, the confirming data is elusive. Since Colorado’s experiment with legalization is affecting Kansas, we need to know more about what is actually happening here so policy makers can make informed decisions.”
Although possession and sale of marijuana remains illegal nationwide under federal law, the U.S. Department of Justice has elected not to fully enforce federal law in states like Colorado that have “legalized” marijuana under their state law. However, federal enforcement guidelines state that federal enforcement remains appropriate if marijuana from states like Colorado comes into surrounding states and causes harm. Kansas state law prohibits the possession or distribution of marijuana.
Nebraska and Oklahoma have sued Colorado in the U.S. Supreme Court, pointing to harm caused in those states by the illegal importation of marijuana from Colorado. The Supreme Court has not yet stated whether it will hear the case. Kansas has not joined in that legal challenge, although Schmidt said his office continues to carefully monitor the case.
“We’re approaching this unprecedented situation methodically so we can assess and then, if needed, address the actual problems,” Schmidt said. “We need data that shows what is actually happening in Kansas as the result of Colorado’s experiment. In my view, any response needs to be thoughtful and informed by factual data, not emotions.”
Closer to home
With more marijuana flooding into the state, this is also having an effect in Great Bend and the surrounding communities.
“We think we see a lot of marijuana from Colorado,” Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said. “There is no scientific proof of this but it looks less handled, cleaner, has a higher grade and the packaging is different than what we used to see.”
He also mentioned that people have easier access to it now and they have even had people confess when they get caught with it that it came from Colorado.
Law enforcement agencies in Great Bend said they have not seen an increase of marijuana in Great Bend or even a decrease. But with easier access to the drug this can change in the future and if other states that connect to the Kansas border legalize marijuana, this can cause many issues with more drug flow and distribution in the state of Kansas.