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Smuggling Marijuana Out of States that have Legalized

There is a Debate Over Legal Marijuana Contributing to the Black Market

Smuggling marijuana out of a state that has legalized cannabis does not seem like a smart move. States that have legalized cannabis are on high alert and authorities are tracking down the culprits. The question is whether the fact that cannabis is legal within a state contributes to the black markets outside of the state.

A legal cultivator of marijuana would logically not want there to be a black market for cannabis because it takes away from their business. If a state that has legalized is challenged in making sure that the cannabis being grown within the state is all licensed, then that state needs to figure out a better way to monitor cultivation. Do you think it would be more challenging to monitor grows in large states that have a lot of rural space?

Marijuana grown in Oregon and the handful of other states where pot is legal is being smuggled to other parts of America, authorities say. It’s often hard to tell if the trafficked weed was grown legally or illegally, but some say the fact that pot is leaving these states at all puts the marijuana industry at risk.

Here is a look at some recent notable cases.

Colorado officials announced on June 28 they had cracked a huge smuggling ring that, under the cover of the state’s legal medical marijuana industry, shipped pot to a half-dozen other states.

A Denver grand jury indicted 62 people and 12 businesses. It was the largest illegal marijuana operation discovered since Colorado legalized recreational pot in 2012, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said. Federal agents also were involved in the bust.

The indictment says the enterprise produced more than 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of illegal pot each month for shipment to Kansas, Texas, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and other states. The ring operated from 2012 until 2016, earning an estimated $200,000 a month, Coffman said.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson thanked Coffman for “exposing the influx of Colorado marijuana entering Nebraska,” the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper reported.

Nebraska and Oklahoma earlier filed a lawsuit against Colorado, saying legalized marijuana in the neighboring state was spilling into Nebraska and Oklahoma, complicating their anti-drug efforts and draining state resources. The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit without comment.

Two of the men named in the Colorado indictment were arrested during an earlier traffic stop in Nebraska with 36 pounds (16 kilograms) of marijuana packed into two suitcases in their car.

An Oregon State Police trooper stopped a car that was driving just over the speed limit in a remote part of Oregon, and right away noticed there was only one key on the key ring.

Trooper Austin Hopson’s training and experience told him that was a sign that the driver of the car he stopped on Feb. 12, 2016, was a marijuana smuggler. The road has been known to be used by traffickers seeking to avoid law enforcement, authorities said.

Plus, the passenger seat was full of items — including luggage and a musical instrument case — that would normally be in the trunk, and the driver was nervous. Hopson asked the man, a Minnesotan who was a former cellist with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, if he could search the car.

“At this point, for the first time during the stop, the Defendant would not make eye contact with Trooper Hopson. Instead, the Defendant stared down at his paperwork as his hands began to shake uncontrollably,” a deputy district attorney said in a filing with the Klamath County Circuit Court.

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Brian Wroblewski

Brian Wroblewski has a passion for writing, travel, food and family. Since working in and around the cannabis industry since 2008, Brian brings a unique perspective to the cannabis journalism space. With a focus on emerging brands, moving the cannabis industry forward and an undeniable passion for truth in business and journalism, find some of Brian's posts across the web on digital marketing, cannabis and a variety of different topics.

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