It’s time to talk about something that I’m sure no one wants to admit, the problems with legalizing recreational marijuana. It’s nice to sit back and think that there were absolutely no negatives to this gigantic legal cannabis experiment that Colorado has been undertaking the last few years, but apparently that’s not the whole story. While legal weed has done wonders to cut down illegal drug activity between residents within the state, this cannabis safe haven has become a hideout for drug smugglers from all over. It seems that some big names in the drug mule industry decided to head to the promise land of Colorado to set up shop. In the last few years there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of cannabis that is exiting Colorado and making its way to states that still consider the plant to be highly illegal. I’m sure that this is no surprise to most of you, especially those that live in nearby states, but the sheer quantity and size of these operations might shock you.
These smugglers definitely don’t lack any creativity in how they decide to transport their cannabis. Some people stuff children’s toys full of weed while others have developed intense skydiving fronts to transport their bud. Some of these people might be tourists or Colorado locals, but many of them seem to be people that moved here specifically to get into this black market business. It is definitely hard to prove that any of the cannabis that is being confiscated was grown in Colorado, but there are some pretty tell tale signs that have got people concerned. In 2014 over 2,000 pounds of cannabis was taken from drivers in Colorado that intended to take it out of state. That is over a 100% increase from the amount that was taken in 2009 prior to legalization. While some people are trying to drive or fly it out of the state, many more decide to simply ship it. US Postal Services found over 470 pounds of cannabis in 2014 and under 60 pounds in 2010. Part of this problem is stemming from an increase in demand as Colorado cannabis starts to become a brand name of its own.
The biggest concern that these stories give me is that it might jeopardize the current pass that the federal government is giving to Colorado and other states to test out legalization. One of the contingencies that the federal government had made was that Colorado had to be able to keep the drug from excessively making its way to neighboring states that don’t allow it. This has clearly been happening, maybe even worse than could have been expected, but Obama’s administration has urged the Supreme Court to not take any action. It is clear that Colorado is making an effort to shut down this trafficking community, but it is a daunting task. Perhaps the problem is going to persist until we finally legalize cannabis in enough states to end the need for a black market that is currently still so temptingly lucrative.