Allister Adams smoked marijuana Dec. 6 just after midnight at the Space Needle in Seattle.
States neighboring Colorado and Washington are wondering how much marijuana will spill across their borders after voters in those two states legalized its recreational use in November.
They vow to arrest and prosecute marijuana possessors even if the product is purchased legally across state lines.
Possession of any amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor under federal law, and selling it in any amount is a federal felony.
President Obama said last month that “we have bigger fish to fry” than going after pot smokers in Washington and Colorado. The Justice Department has not said how it will respond or whether it is concerned about increased cross-border trafficking from the two states.
One drug-control advocate predicts that trafficking will increase into and out of Washington and Colorado, and that could drive down the cost of marijuana regionally.
“The retail marijuana stores will be in business to make as much of a profit as possible,” says Tom Gorman, director of the Denver-based drug-policy group Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. “That means selling as much marijuana as they can to the largest number of people as they can. That will create a competitive market based on quality and the price of the product.”
Law enforcement officials in neighboring states are watching as Colorado and Washington regulators decide how the product can be grown, processed and sold in their states.
“Everyone is aware of the possibility that you could have an increase (in cross-border traffic), especially for some of our counties on the border of Colorado,” says Lt. Josh Kellerman, a spokesman for the Kansas Highway Patrol. “People might not understand that while they bought it legally in Colorado, it is still illegal in our state.”
Wyoming Attorney General Greg Phillips notes that the state’s Supreme Court in 2011 ruled that marijuana bought for medical purposes in California still was illegal in Wyoming.
“I think the same rule applies” for marijuana purchased in states that have legalized it, Phillips says.
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