When smuggling Colo. pot, not even the sky’s the limit
Marijuana seized from suspected smugglers sits in buckets and plastic totes inside an evidence room at the Deuel County Sheriff’s Office in Nebraska. Deputies there say they’ve seen a surge in Colorado marijuana flowing through their state.(Photo: Trevor Hughes/USA TODAY)
DENVER – If you can dream up a way to smuggle marijuana out of Colorado, chances are someone else has already tried it: Cars and trucks. Potato chip bags and jars of peanut butter. The U.S. mail.
Not even the sky is the limit: A pilot last year confessed he used his skydiving planes to deliver nearly a ton of pot to buyers in Texas and Minnesota, court records show.
Authorities say growers are using loopholes in Colorado’s legal cannabis system to produce marijuana destined for illegal export, tempted by the high prices that Colorado’s high-grade marijuana commands on the black market, including convenient and discreet marijuana-infused candy.
And with margins of as much as 300%, smugglers are willing to take big risks.
“What we’re hearing from out of state is that that best dope around is Colorado dope,” says Tom Gorman, director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force, which operates in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. "It’s high quality, and then you have the edibles and the hash oil.”
The flow of high-quality marijuana out of Colorado has already prompted a lawsuit from the attorneys general in Nebraska and Oklahoma, who say their locals jails are being overwhelmed by smugglers getting caught with Colorado pot. The U.S. Supreme Court in March declined to hear that lawsuit, and officials in Nebraska and Oklahoma are considering their options.
That’s put Colorado authorities in the position of defending the state on the very issue its neighbors had griped about before it legalized marijuana: that it would foster more criminal activity. Legalization advocates argue that smuggling would stop if other states would simply change their laws to reflect the reality that marijuana is a widely used drug.
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