Colorado has reportedly made $1 million per day off of the recently legalized selling of recreational marijuana.
In-state residents 21 years of age and older can legally purchase an ounce of pot at a licensed dealer. Out-of-staters are allowed to purchase a quarter of an ounce. As a border state, the threat of marijuana coming into Kansas seems imminent.
To Tri-state area law enforcement officers, it hasn’t changed much.
“The laws in Kansas have not changed,” Sherman County Sheriff Burton Pianalto said. “Nothing has changed. It’s still illegal (in Kansas) to possess, smoke, or distribute.”
The small, individual amounts coming into Kansas really pose no different threat than what there already is. What worries law enforcement more is the potential for larger quantities of pot to make its way into the state for the purpose of illegal distribution.
Cheyenne County Sheriff Cody Beeson said that after researching and speaking with members of the Denver Police Department who specialize in the issue, the threat should not become any more prominent than what it is until distribution points are set up closer to the border.
“As of now a non-resident can only purchase a small amount of marijuana at each transaction,” Beeson said. “This make the process of completing enough transactions to justify the trip to Colorado hard. Add in the fact recreational marijuana carries a high tax and it becomes hard to for someone to go to Denver, purchase marijuana and return to Kansas to resell. As with any business if the profit margin does not exist, the business cannot succeed.”
Beeson acknowledged that there could be in increase in Kansans traveling to Colorado for their own use and bringing it back across the border. However, this would lower the amount of illegal transactions throughout Northwest Kansas, making the crime a case of possession and not distribution.
Pianalto reiterated the importance of the user versus the distributer.
“The people in Kansas who obtain fake Colorado ID’s and try to obtain larger quantities of marijuana with the intent of selling are the bigger issue,” Pianalto said.
Possession of any amount of marijuana can land Kansans time in prison along with fines. If convicted on multiple accounts, that person could be convicted of a felony and face up to three and a half years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, 2,654 pounds of marijuana have been seized in the first five months this year along with 187 individuals arrested. Kansas Highway Patrol discovered that of the 133 felony pot trafficking cases earlier this year, 79 seizures were of Colorado marijuana.
Pianalto, again, stressed at the end of the interview: “The laws in Kansas have not changed.”
—This story was written and compiled by Beau Tiongson. Additional sources hyperlinked in text. All rights reserved.