By Kelly Werthmann
DENVER (CBS4) – Marijuana may be legal in Colorado, but the Denver Police Department is confiscating more weed than they ever have before.
“Prior to the legalization with Amendment 64, we received small quantities of marijuana, maybe a couple ounces or a few pounds,” said Lt. Cliff Carney, who manages the evidence and property section for the department. “After 64, we’re seeing huge seizures the come in. We’ll get sometimes 300 to 400 boxes of marijuana at one time on one seizure.”
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Denver police are confiscating so much marijuana that Carney told CBS4 they are running out of space to store it. There are two storage rooms at the department’s headquarters downtown, but they are quickly filling up with processed pot, plants and other evidence.
“We’re dealing with what we have,” Carney said. “We have a pretty good turnover so we don’t have to keep it forever, but we have to have a place to store it and process it to get rid of it.”
In an effort to fix the problem, Denver police is asking the city for a little more than $125,000 to hire additional staff and purchase more shelving.
“We’ve asked for more staffing to facilitate the property in the lab and composting facility,” Carney said. “We’ve asked for more storage devices to hold (the marijuana). We’ve already got money in the budget to compost, which is saving us quite a bit of money.”
According to Carney, DPD is among the first departments to compost illegal marijuana plants, after the court approves the disposal.
Confiscated plants don’t have a long shelf life and tend to start molding within a week or two, Carney explained. Marijuana that is processed and packaged can be kept for a longer period of time or returned to the person it was taken from, depending on what the courts determine to do with it.
As for why authorities are seizing more marijuana now than before it was legal, Carney said he can only speculate.
“Because it is now legal in certain quantities, people nowadays believe they can exceed those quantities and there’d be no prosecution, that it’s not criminal,” he said. “We used to see 15 to 20 plants at a time being seized at a small grow, now we’ll see it in the hundreds, even thousands at warehouses.”
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team in 2012 as the morning reporter, covering national stories like the Aurora Theater Shooting and devastating Colorado wildfires. She now anchors CBS4 Weekend Morning News and reports during the week. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @KellyCBS4.