Know someone thinking about traveling to neighboring Colorado to pick up a small stash of newly legalized marijuana?
Consider a bit of advice from Cimarron County Sheriff Kevin McIntire, whose Oklahoma Panhandle county sits hard against the Colorado border.
McIntire expects to see a boost in the number of buzz seekers passing through his county after 53 percent of Colorado voters last week voted in favor of Amendment 64. When it takes effect in 2014, the new law will allow anyone over 21 to buy up to an ounce of marijuana from specialty retail stores in the state.
U.S. 287 comes straight out of Denver through Cimarron County and on toward the Dallas area. McIntire said the easy availability of marijuana in Colorado is sure to create a steady flow of customers traveling through his rural county of about 2,500 residents in farthest western Oklahoma.
McIntire speaks from experience. During his two years as sheriff, he said about a quarter of his department's marijuana arrests involved state-authorized medical marijuana users from Colorado. Most are the result of traffic stops on U.S. 287.
“Most of the time they either believe it's perfectly fine to have it because of their card from Colorado,” McIntire said. “Once it's explained to them, they're not usually happy with the fact they're going to go to jail.”
New markets opened
Agents for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control have seen a steady flow of drugs out of Colorado since passage of a 2010 law involving medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, spokesman Mark Woodward said.
A similar pipeline opened across the state about a decade ago when California approved marijuana for medical use.
“We have seen large loads of high-quality, bulk-processed marijuana coming across Oklahoma highways to the East Coast for sale,” Woodward said.
Passage of the new recreational use law in Colorado opens up the availability for new markets all over the country, Woodward said.
He pointed out the strong demand for the high-potency, medical-grade marijuana, which he described as “some of the most powerful grown on the planet.”
“There's going to be people willing to step in and try to profit off it … knowing that I don't have to do a back-alley deal to get Mexican marijuana, I can simply drive to Colorado and get some of the best there is,” Woodward said.