As more states legalize marijuana use and availability increases, so will illegal trafficking, Woodward said. Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., now allow medical marijuana, while Colorado and Washington last week became the first two states to legalize recreational use.
Federal law, as well as Oklahoma law, still says marijuana is illegal.
“Whether it's coming from Chihuahua, Mexico, or Colorado or Sacramento, (Calif.), we're going to deal with it the same way,” Woodward said. “It's illegal here, and if they bring it through the state, they're going to get the same punishment as any other trafficker or distributor.”
Norma Sapp, Oklahoma state director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, agreed some will try to take advantage of Colorado's new law.
“I'm assuming there probably will be stupid people that will try to bring it back in to Oklahoma,” she said.
Still, she believes that more and more, attitudes about marijuana use are changing. A 2011 Gallup poll found that 50 percent of Americans favored legalizing marijuana use while 46 percent were opposed.
Sapp, of Little Axe, said she's been fighting for legalization of medical marijuana in Oklahoma since 1990. She believes average Oklahomans, for the most part, are indifferent to the issue. Her challenge, she said, is convincing lawmakers subjected to decades of drug war rhetoric. Sapp thinks this could be the year. She's hoping a legislative study on medical marijuana use will provide the evidence needed to convince legislators.
“I think they're just ignorant,” she said. “They don't know the truth.”
Until lawmakers are swayed, McIntire's four-man sheriff's department out in Cimarron County expects to keep busy with those seeking to get high. On any given day, about 95 percent of the county jail's occupants are out-of-towners who were just passing through. As for those found with small amounts of marijuana? Expect a fine and consider bringing a good book. Simple possession of marijuana is usually a misdemeanor in Oklahoma.
“They usually have to spend a night or weekend in jail,” McIntire said.