County law enforcement in Nebraska sees big impact from Colorado pot exports

Marijuana Crossroads: An NET News reporting project
News of large pot busts have become routine at the Nebraska State Patrol.
A legally licensed downtown Denver marijuana dispensary. (Photo by NET News)
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November 22, 2013 - 6:30am

An NET News crew record as officers with the Deuel County, Neb. Sheriff's office search a vehicle believed to be transporting marijuana on I-80.  (Photo by Bill Kelly, NET News)

Eight out of ten county law enforcement officials working along the I-80 corridor believe the legalization of medical marijuana in Colorado impacted the illegal drug trade in their county, according to a survey released this week by NET News.  That’s one of several highlights of the research completed as part of a year-long reporting project called Marijuana Crossroads.   

Early in 2013, NET News launched an investigative reporting project examining what, if any, impact Nebraska faced from the legalization of marijuana in the neighboring state of Colorado.  We quickly learned there was little substantive data publicly available tracking trends in law enforcement.

First, detailed, county-level arrest statistics were obtained from the Nebraska Crime Commission.  Our analysis revealed felony arrests for the transportation and sale of marijuana in Nebraska had jumped 40 percent since 2007.  Arrests for simple possession remained almost flat during the same period. 

Next, NET News surveyed Nebraska's county attorneys and sheriffs to see if their experiences at the local level matched what statistics indicated was a statewide issue.  Our online survey was developed by NET Research Manager Michelle Kosmicki in cooperation with the Nebraska Sheriffs’ Association and the Nebraska County Attorneys Association. 

You can download the full report here.


Click here for additional charts and graphs from our NET News Survey (Graphic: Kristi Koser, NET)

Key findings include:
  • Statewide, 66 percent of the county law enforcement officials surveyed felt legalization of medical marijuana in Colorado impacted the illegal drug trade in their region.  The increased impact rose to 82 percent for officials serving along the I-80 corridor. 
  • With recreational marijuana becoming legal in Colorado in 2014, nearly 80 percent of county law enforcement officials surveyed statewide felt it would increase the supply of marijuana in their jurisdiction.
  • Seventy percent of county law enforcement officials on the I-80 corridor surveyed by NET News reported an “upward trend” in the number of arrests of those suspected of transporting marijuana through their county.
  • Statewide, 89 percent of county law enforcement officials surveyed agreed traffic stops along the interstate were an effective way to reduce the marijuana supply in the state.
  • Fifty-eight percent of county law enforcement officials interviewed statewide agreed the Nebraska State Legislature should discuss a proposal to increase penalties for intent to deliver marijuana
  • Sixty percent of county attorneys and 55 percent of county sheriffs located along I-80 said prosecuting/investigating marijuana cases had an impact on the county’s budget. 




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