Marijuana Crossroads

How legalizing pot in Colorado affects Nebraska.


“The folks in Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, and Wyoming didn’t vote for this, but their supply of marijuana is being increased by what’s going on in Colorado.” --Colorado Attorney General John Suthers

“When people really start looking at Colorado they’re going to see a very responsible controlled and safe program put into place.” --Michael Elliott, Medical Marijuana Industry Lobbyist

“There is virtually no discussion at a public policy level and we probably should because it is clear it is at our back door.” --Pharmacy Professor Ally Dering-Anderson, University of Nebraska Medical Center

Legalization of medical marijuana in Colorado causes almost daily headaches for law enforcement in neighboring states.  It also gives new energy to those advocating its safe use. By the end of 2013, 20 states permitted cannabis for medical use.  Polls show a majority of Americans believe pot should be legal.  Meanwhile, hundreds of pounds of illegal pot are being seized by police in neighboring states.  In states where it’s likely to remain illegal, policy makers seem unsure on how to respond

Marijuana Crossroads, a 30-minute television program, visits Nebraska, where a county sheriff patrolling highways crossing the Colorado border unexpectedly finds himself facing the issue head on. 

The program, produced by NET News, part of Nebraska’s state public television and radio network, takes viewers to Denver, where the multi-million dollar legal marijuana trade is flourishing, and the Nebraska towns feeling the effects.  Interviews with pot farmers, prosecutors, smokers and lawmakers reveal the complexity of dealing with an issue that divides opinion at the state’s borderline.

NET News' reporting provides a balanced look at the issue while raising questions about the consequences of policy makers and the public not discussing the implications of the rapidly changing attitudes about using marijuana for medicine and for pleasure.

A research project undertaken by NET News especially for Marijuana Crossroads surveyed Nebraska county law enforcement officials and analyzed crime statistics not previously made public. (Read the full report.)

Among the findings:

  • Since 2007 arrests for felony distribution and sale of marijuana have risen 40 percent.  Possession cases have remained steady during the same period.
  • Statewide, 66 percent of Nebraska 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.
  • 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. 

Do you have comments and questions about Marijuana Crossroads or would you like to schedule a viewing and discussion for your school or organization?  Email the producer of the program, Bill Kelly with NET News.