Local law enforcement see major increase on Colorado marijuana in Kansas

Hemp plant (KSN File Photo)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas attorney general’s office Monday published a new report that shows marijuana from Colorado has permeated nearly all parts of Kansas, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

The report also shows that Colorado’s decision to “legalize” marijuana has resulted in a sharp increase in the availability of marijuana-laced “edibles” in Kansas, a phenomenon rarely encountered here before the Colorado experiment.

“I don’t think it was a surprise as much as we pretty much expected it,” stated Lt. Lin Dehning, Sedgwick Co. Sheriff’s Office.

Over the last two years, there have been 57 drug busts involving Colorado weed. But, Lt. Dehning says that night not be all of them.

“That’s not to say that there are only 57 cases because there are other times where we would catch somebody with a bundle of marijuana and they wouldn’t talk to us and tell us where it came from,” Lt. Dehning added.

Saline County has also seen a steady increase in overall levels of marijuana crimes.

“From last year in 2015 we seized approximately 28.5 pounds of marijuana throughout the year and only about 300 of those grams were of the marijuana we used to see come up from Mexico,” stated Lt. Bill Cox, Drug Task Force Salina Police Department.

Since Colorado changed its state law to allow recreational as well as medical use of marijuana, persistent anecdotal reports from law enforcement agencies in Kansas had suggested Colorado marijuana was readily flowing into Kansas despite assurances that federal authorities would exercise their authority to prevent Colorado marijuana from flowing into nearby states where it remains illegal. But solid data about the extent of the problem was unavailable.

In December 2015, Schmidt exercised his authority under Kansas law to gather information from local law enforcement officials and began surveying all county and district attorneys, sheriffs and police departments in the state about their specific experiences with marijuana coming from Colorado. The information provided by 320 responding law enforcement agencies and 70 prosecutors’ offices is compiled in the report released this week.

“This report provides the first data-based snapshot of the specific effects Colorado’s experiment in ‘legalization’ is having in Kansas,” Schmidt said. “I hope this information will serve to better inform policy discussions and debates. Whatever one’s views on the merits of Colorado’s choice to ‘legalize’ and on the federal government’s decision to look the other way despite the commands of federal law, it is clear that decisions made in Colorado and Washington, D.C., are having a significant effect in Kansas.”

The report summarizes its findings as follows:

The survey responses demonstrate that Colorado marijuana is prevalent in Kansas. While some jurisdictions reported an increase in overall levels of marijuana crimes, the major effect of Colorado marijuana ‘legalization’ appears to be that high grade marijuana from Colorado has to a large extent replaced lower grade marijuana from Mexico and home grown marijuana. Numerous jurisdictions also reported a significant rise in the availability of marijuana edibles and other marijuana products, such as waxes and oils, originating from Colorado.

A copy of the report is available on the attorney general’s website at www.ag.ks.gov/survey-results. That site also links to the raw information collected from the responding law enforcement agencies and prosecutors.